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2019

REPORT CARD FOR


OREGON’S
INFRASTRUCTURE

Oregon Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers


INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON
NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS GRID WATERWAYS HIGHWAYS BR
DAMS DRINKING WATER WASTEWATER TRANSIT RAIL PORT
NETWORK AQUEDUCTS AIRPORTS ENERGY SUSTAINABILIT
NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS HIGHWAYS BRIDGES AVIATION D
WATER WASTEWATER TRANSIT RAIL PORTS STREETS AQUAD
NERGY SUSTAINABILITY RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE ROA
RIDGES AVIATION DAMS DRINKING WATER WASTEWATER
ORTS STREETS AQUADUCTS AIRPORTS ENERGY SUSTAINA
NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS HIGHWAYS BRIDGES AVIATION D
WATER WASTEWATER TRANSIT RAIL PORTS STREETS AQUED
NERGY SUSTAINABILITY RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE ROA
RIDGES AVIATION DAMS DRINKING WATER WASTEWATER
ORTS STREETS AQUEDUCTS AIRPORTS ENERGY SUSTAINA
NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS HIGHWAYS BRIDGES AVIATION D
WATER WASTEWATER TRANSIT RAIL PORTS STREETS AQUED
NERGY SUSTAINABILITY RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE ROA
RIDGES AVIATION DAMS DRINKING WATER WASTEWATER
ORTS STREETS AQUADUCTS AIRPORTS ENERGY SUSTAINA
NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS HIGHWAYS BRIDGES AVIATION D
WATER WASTEWATER TRANSIT RAIL PORTS STREETS AQUAD
NERGY SUSTAINABILITY RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE ROA
RIDGES AVIATION DAMS DRINKING WATER WASTEWATER
ORTS STREETS AQUADUCTS AIRPORTS ENERGY SUSTAINA
NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS HIGHWAYS BRIDGES AVIATION D
WATER WASTEWATER TRANSIT RAIL PORTS STREETS AQUAD
NERGY SUSTAINABILITY RESILIENT INFRASTRUCTURE ROA
RIDGES AVIATION DAMS DRINKING WATER WASTEWATER
ORTS STREETS AQUADUCTS AIRPORTS ENERGY SUSTAINA
COVER PHOTO: I-5 OVER WILLAMETTE RIVER, EUGENE, OR PHOTO: HDR

NFRASTRUCTURE ROADS HIGHWAYS BRIDGES AVIATION D


TABLE OF CONTENTS
2019

REPORT CARD FOR


OREGON’S
INFRASTRUCTURE
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY……………………………………………………………………………………………………...................4

ASCE OREGON INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT CARD TEAM.......................................................5

ABOUT THE INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT CARD............................................................................6

GRADING SCALE.......................................................................................................................................... 7

2019 REPORT CARD FOR OREGON’S INFRASTRUCTURE.......................................................8

SOLUTIONS TO RAISE THE GRADE......................................................................................................9

INFRASTRUCTURE GRADES BY CATEGORY

BRIDGES…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………................10

DAMS………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………................. 18

DRINKING WATER…………………………………………………………………………………………………………….......... 28

ENERGY……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………............. 38

INLAND WATERWAYS....................................................................................................................... 46

LEVEES..................................................................................................................................................... 55

PORTS....................................................................................................................................................... 62

RAIL........................................................................................................................................................... 70

ROADS......................................................................................................................................................77

WASTEWATER………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….............88

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Infrastructure is critical to supporting the way Oregonians live, get to work, and stay healthy.
Our roads take us to vacations in the Cascades or at the Coast, our bridges provide access
to work, schools, and hospitals, and our water pipes bring us clean, potable drinking water. Our
infrastructure is also critically important to commerce and trade, which Oregon depends on.

Oregon has a long history of supporting infrastructure through funding and innovation. We were
the first state to implement a gas tax and we were home to the first transmission line in the U.S.
More recently, we became the first state to pilot a road usage charge program to pay for neces-
sary transportation infrastructure repairs.

Oregon’s long legacy of supporting its infrastructure is something to be proud of. However,
we face significant challenges that need to be addressed head on through substantial planning,
strong leadership, and adequate financial assistance. Oregon’s population continues to steadily
grow and some of our infrastructure systems are experiencing capacity challenges. Meanwhile,
many of Oregon’s assets, including bridges, dams, and pipelines, were built 50 to 100 years ago
and are at the end of their service life. Additionally, we now better understand the likelihood that
Western Oregon will experience a potential of a 9.0 magnitude earthquake – “the Big One” –
sometime during the next generation. Protecting our residents and our infrastructure against a
major seismic event requires substantial funding.

The Report Card was created to help Oregonians understand the state of our infrastructure.

As civil engineers, our job is to plan, design, construct, and maintain our infrastructure networks.
This document allows us to share that information with the public. The Report Card provides a
snapshot for residents and policymakers to engage in a conservation about where we are and
where we want to be.

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ASCE OREGON INFRASTRUCTURE


REPORT CARD TEAM

REPORT CARD AUTHORS
Report Card Chair Mark Libby Energy David O’Claire Ports Tom Peterson
Leon Kempner
Bridge Josh Goodall Kent Yu Roads Melvin Ewing
Geoff May Yumei Wang Sophia Burkhart
Alison Wyatt
Dams Tom North Ryan Truair Rail Kurt Reichelt
Kelcy Adamec Alex Lockard Bob Melbo
Keith Mills
Doug Johnson Inland Waterways Tom Peterson
Laila Berre Wastewater Kristi Steiner
Levees Shane Cline John Bannon
Drinking Water Larry Magura Paul Worrlein
Tony Rikli Bill Owen
Evyn Mitchell

ASCE OREGON SECTION BOARD


President Courtney Davis The ASCE Oregon Section would like to thank the volunteers who dedicated their
President-Elect Bahaar Taylor time to the research, review, and writing of this report card. We would also like to
thank the many other unnamed contributors who performed peer reviews, assisted
Past President Allison Pyrch in data collection and review, answered questionaires, or participated in other ways.
Treasurer Jerry Ramsden Thank you all for your service to Oregon and our infrastructure.
Secretary Sophia Burkhart






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ABOUT THE
INFRASTRUCTURE REPORT CARD
GRADING CRITERIA
ASCE-OR’s 2019 Report Card Committee is a group of dedicated civil and
environmental engineers from Oregon, who volunteered their time to col-
lect and analyze data, prepare, review, and revise each section, and develop
the final Report Card. The committee worked with ASCE’s Committee
on America’s Infrastructure and ASCE Infrastructure Initiative staff to
provide Oregon with a snapshot of the state of our infrastructure, as it
relates to us at home, and on a national basis.

The Report Card Sections are analyzed based on the following eight criteria:

CAPACITY Does the infrastructure’s capacity meet cur- PUBLIC SAFETY To what extent is the public’s safety
rent and future demands? jeopardized by the condition of the infrastructure and
what could be the consequences of failure?
CONDITION What is the infrastructure’s existing and
near-future physical condition? RESILIENCE What is the infrastructure system’s ca-
pability to prevent or protect against significant multi-
FUNDING What is the current level of funding from all
hazard threats and incidents? How able is it to quickly
levels of government for the infrastructure category as
recover and reconstitute critical services with minimum
compared to the estimated funding need?
consequences for public safety and health, the economy,
FUTURE NEED What is the cost to improve the infrastruc- and national security?
ture? Will future funding prospects address the need?
INNOVATION What new and innovative techniques,
OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE What is the materials, technologies, and delivery methods are being
owners’ ability to operate and maintain the infrastruc- implemented to improve the infrastructure?
ture properly? Is the infrastructure in compliance with
government regulations?

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GRADING SCALE
EXCEPTIONAL: FIT FOR THE FUTURE
The infrastructure in the system or network is generally in excellent condition, typically new or recently rehabilitated, and
meets capacity needs for the future. A few elements show signs of general deterioration that require attention. Facilities
meet modern standards for functionality and are resilient to withstand most disasters and severe weather events.

GOOD: ADEQUATE FOR NOW


The infrastructure in the system or network is in good to excellent condition; some elements show signs of general deterio-
ration that require attention. A few elements exhibit significant deficiencies. Safe and reliable with minimal capacity issues
and minimal risk.

MEDIOCRE: REQUIRES ATTENTION


The infrastructure in the system or network is in fair to good condition; it shows general signs of deterioration and requires
attention. Some elements exhibit significant deficiencies in conditions and functionality, with increasing vulnerability to risk.

POOR: AT RISK
The infrastructure is in poor to fair condition and mostly below standard, with many elements approaching the end of their
service life. A large portion of the system exhibits significant deterioration. Condition and capacity are of significant con-
cern with strong risk of failure.

FAILING/CRITICAL: UNFIT FOR PURPOSE

F The infrastructure in the system is in unacceptable condition with widespread advanced signs of deterioration. Many of the
components of the system exhibit signs of imminent failure.

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2019 REPORT CARD


FOR OREGON’S
INFRASTRUCTURE

BRIDGES
BRIDGES LEVEES

DAMS PORTS

DRINKING
WATER RAIL

ENERGY ROADS

INLAND WASTEWATER
WATERWAYS

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SOLUTIONS TO RAISE THE GRADE


To raise Oregon’s infrastructure grade, ASCE developed the following three recommendations:

Improve our infrastructure’s ability to withstand a major seismic event. The likelihood of experiencing a 9.0
1 Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake event over the next 50 years is about 20%. Our growing understanding
of both the likelihood and severity of such an event requires immediate attention to our at-risk infrastructure.
Bridges, dams, drinking and wastewater systems and more were not designed for ground acceleration that would
come with such a largescale seismic event. We need strong leadership, extensive planning, and most importantly,
robust funding to prepare our infrastructure to be resilient. Our built systems must aid recovery efforts, rather
than hinder them.

Prioritize investment in Oregon’s bridges to protect the transportation network in the aftermath of a major
2 seismic event. The Oregon Resilience Plan calls for the development of a mitigation policy and retrofit plan
for vulnerable bridges and other infrastructure. Bridges are critical lifelines to rural populations, not to mention
metropolitan neighborhoods that reside on different sides of the Willamette and Columbia rivers. New bridges
must be built to withstand a major earthquake, and old bridges must be retrofitted so that they can stay in service
and provide access to communities. Emergency vehicles and supplies will need to be moved quickly and efficiently
in the aftermath of a major earthquake.

3 Provide additional funding to the Connect Oregon multi-modal, competitive grant program. Connect Oregon
has provided much-needed grants for Oregon’s air, rail, marine, and bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure. The
program has a proven track record of increasing connectivity, strengthening the freight system, and improving the
overall condition of Oregon’s transportation network. Robust funding should be provided by the state legislature
to ensure the continuation of the program.

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BRIDGES

FALL FOLIAGE UNDER THE MAPLE TREE WITH PORTLAND OREGON CITY
SKYLINE BY HAWTHORNE BRIDGE ALONG WILLAMETTE RIVER
© TWG PHOTOGRAPHY
BRIDGES
GRADE: C

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oregon has 7,615 bridges and 546 culverts listed in the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) National Bridge
Inventory (NBI) database. While the percentage of bridges in Oregon that are structurally deficient is just over
half the national average, the average age of Oregon’s bridge inventory is rapidly increasing. Nearly 20 percent of
Oregon bridges are at risk of becoming structurally deficient in the near future, and the percentage of Oregon’s
bridges in good condition is lowest among the western states. While funding provided in House Bill 2017 (passed
by the Oregon State Legislature in 2017) has improved funding for bridge infrastructure, maintenance needs are
forecasted to grow and will require nearly three times the funding levels established by HB2017. Combined with
the need to improve our seismic resilience, the funding for bridges is critically low.

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CONDITION & CAPACITY


Of Oregon’s bridge inventory, 2,621 bridges are state-owned,
3,882 are county- or city-owned, and 1,112 are owned by Federal
agencies or other jurisdictions. On average, state- and locally-owned
bridges are in satisfactory condition, with federally-owned bridges
in satisfactory to good condition. However, conditions are declining
and many bridges are on the cusp of becoming deficient.

There are an average of 54.5 million trips taken on Oregon bridges


each day, with that number expected to increase to 68.4 million trips
by 2030. With a current state population of 4.2 million people, there
are approximately 13 bridge crossings per person every single day. Of
the 7,615 bridges, 422, or 5.2 percent are listed as in poor condition
and considered structurally deficient. While this percentage compares
favorably to the national average of 8 percent, the number of structurally deficient bridges in Oregon is more than double the amount from
10 years ago (178). An average of 1.4 million trips are taken over structurally deficient bridges every day, or one for every three people in Or-
egon. Encouragingly, Oregon’s highly travelled bridges are not as likely to be structurally deficient, with only 2 percent of total trips crossing
a structurally deficient bridge. Replacing the bridges that are currently structurally deficient would cost just over $412 million.

Structural Deficiency
Structurally Deficient Bridges Nearly Structural Deficient Bridges
1,200

1,000

800
Number of Bridges

600

400

200

0
50+ 40-49 30-39 20-29 10-19 0-9
Bridge Age

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This substantial uptick in the number of structurally Age of Oregon's Bridges


deficient bridges is an indicator of the aging nature
of our state’s bridge inventory. The average age of
Oregon’s bridges is 46 years old. This is older than
the national average of 43 years old (and substan-
tially older than the state average of 38 years old in
5%
5%
2008). While existing 1950s and 1960s era bridges
12%
12%
were typically designed for a 50-year life, rehabilita-
50+
tion and preservation has helped extend their service
8%
8% 40-49
life. Based on a typical design life of 75 years and the
46%
current bridge replacement rate of five to 10 bridges 46% 30-39
20-29
per year, the average age of Oregon’s bridges will ex-
12%
12%
10-19
ceed their design life by 2051. Notably, an additional
1,495 bridges are on the verge of becoming struc- 0-9
turally deficient. As our infrastructure continues to 17%
17%
age, the percentage of Oregon’s bridges that are
structurally deficient could quickly exceed the na-
tional average. Only 21.9 percent of bridges by area
are currently in good condition (FHWA rating of 7 or
better). In the last 10 years, the number of Oregon
bridges on the National Highway System (NHS) in good condition has been cut in half.

225 (3 percent) of Oregon’s bridges are load restricted, meaning that travelers are legally prohibited from crossing with vehicles weighing
more than the posted limit for the bridge. Seventy seven of these bridges are also structurally deficient, but the remaining 148 are in oth-
erwise good or fair condition. Repairing or strengthening these additional 148 bridges would cost an additional $51 million.

O&M, FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


While the state of Oregon owns just over 1/3 of the state’s total
bridge inventory, those bridges make up nearly 2/3 of the total
bridge area. Local agencies are responsible for 1/2 of the total bridge
inventory and 1/4 of the total bridge area. Federal and other juris-
dictions are responsible for only 4 percent of the total bridge area.
With this distribution of ownership, nearly all the bridge operation
and maintenance work in Oregon is the responsibility of the state
and local governments.

Since the Oregon Transportation Investment Act (OTIA) program


was completed, focus has shifted to maintaining existing inventory
through repairs and bridge strengthening. Maintenance and preser-

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vation actions can help hold bridge condition ratings level by fixing the most deficient element(s) on a bridge, but rarely results in improved
ratings. Furthermore, these improvements are merely temporary, as the entire bridge continues to age and deteriorate. The passage of
HB2017 has substantially improved funding for bridge preservation from $85 million/year to $122 million/year. However, even with this
increased funding level, the condition of Oregon’s bridges will continue to decline, with only 4.1 percent of Oregon’s NHS bridges fore-
casted to be remaining in good condition by 2028.

As bridge conditions continue to decline, existing funding levels will be insufficient to maintain this aging inventory. Furthermore, current
ODOT Highway Division funding is derived primarily through flat-rate motor fuels taxes. Over time, due to the effects of inflation and ve-
hicles becoming increasingly fuel efficient, existing funding sources are at risk of being compromised. Oregon’s innovative weight-mile tax
for trucks and the trial use of a distance tax for passenger vehicles may help alleviate this downward trend in funding, if fully implemented
in the future.

To preserve at least 10 percent of Oregon’s NHS bridges in good condition, the Oregon Transportation Commission estimates that funding
for bridge maintenance will need to be $350 million/year. Current funding levels enable bridge owners to preserve their bridges and com-
plete major rehabilitations in the short term.

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Replacement of Oregon’s oldest and most heavily trav-


elled structures will tremendously improve the overall
condition of Oregon’s bridges, and reduce the annual
cost of maintaining existing structures. Major infra-
structure projects included in HB2017 are a step in
the right direction, but more bridge replacements are
needed as existing bridges continue to age. Using a 75-
year bridge design life, an average of 103 bridges should
be replaced annually to preserve current inventory
conditions. However, of the 2,621 state-owned bridges,
only seven were added in 2018, with only two replacing
existing deteriorated bridges.

RESILIENCY
Natural threats to the resiliency of Oregon’s bridges in-
clude tsunamis in coastal regions, flooding throughout
the state, and earthquakes from both local and major
offshore faults. Bridges provide a vital link between ru-
ral communities and major population centers and are
part of the resiliency strategy for providing emergency
response after a Cascadia Subduction Zone (CSZ) earth-
quake. To preserve this link, ODOT is leading a statewide
effort to develop emergency response corridors (“lifeline”
routes) that enable a more rapid emergency response af-
ter a major seismic event. Phase 1 of these routes is along
I-5 between Portland and Eugene, Hwy 97 between the
Dalles and Klamath Falls, and I-84 and Hwy 58 between
these two north-south routes. The passage of HB2017
provided funding for some of the major seismic resilien-
cy projects throughout the state. Additionally, ODOT is
collaborating with local agencies throughout the western
portion of the state to identify local lifeline routes and
prioritize the retrofit of bridges on them, including tsu-
nami preparedness where applicable. However, without a
comprehensive funding for all bridges along these routes,
the goal of a truly uninterrupted lifeline between major
Oregon population centers will not be realized.

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INNOVATION
Use of innovative materials such as ultra-high-strength concrete and high strength reinforcement are becoming more common on bridge
projects throughout the state. These materials help improve construction quality, and lead to lower rates of deterioration over the bridge’s
service life. Major bridges in the state have been the subject of increasingly innovative preservation methods. Cathodic protection for
many of the state’s historic coastal bridges and a two-tiered performance-based seismic resiliency standard are examples of this approach.
Further, response to recent major winter storms in the state’s metropolitan areas have led to a reversion to the use of salt as a form of
de-icing. Adjusting the state’s inclement weather response strategy to include anti-icing strategies that do not further degrade an already
aging bridge inventory would mitigate the damage done to infrastructure during weather events.

From a project delivery perspective, ODOT and Tri-Met are increasingly scoping projects using alternative delivery methods such as De-
sign-Build and Construction Manager/General Contractor as appropriate. In delivering the projects identified in HB2017, ODOT is using
a variety of contracting methods to match each project’s specific requirements with an ideal delivery process. Impacts to public mobility
during construction are being reduced due to renewed emphasis on the use of accelerated bridge construction techniques.

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BRIDGES

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Prioritize replacement of aging bridges as a means of reducing the substantial
cost of maintaining existing inventory.
•• Provide funding to repair and replace the growing wave of bridges that are
currently or will soon become structurally deficient.
•• Identify a long-term, inflation-adjusted funding source for replacing Oregon’s
bridges at a rate of approximately 100 each year.
•• Develop a maintenance strategy that provides mobility to the public during winter
storms without exposing aging infrastructure to additional corrosive impacts.
•• Achieve ODOT’s goal of post-earthquake resiliency by completely funding the
retrofit or replacement of bridges along “lifeline” routes

DEFINITIONS
STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT (SD) – Bridges that require significant maintenance,
rehabilitation, or replacement. According to FHWA bridges are classified as structurally
deficient if the deck, superstructure, or substructure are rated in “poor” condition (0 to
4 on the 10-point grading scale).

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 16
BRIDGES

SOURCES
American Society of Civil Engineers, 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, 2017.
American Society of Civil Engineers – Oregon Section, Oregon’s Infrastructure
Report Card, October 26, 2010.
Oregon Department of Transportation, 2018 Bridge Condition Report, 2018.
Photos from Bridgehunter.com, http://bridgehunter.com/or/, Accessed January 12,
2019
U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, Bridge
Replacement Unit Costs, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/nbi/sd2017.cfm, Accessed
January 12, 2019.
U.S Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, NBI ASCII files
for 2017, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/bridge/nbi/ascii2017.cfm, Accessed December
17, 2018.
U.S. Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration, Recording
and Coding Guide for the Structure Inventory and Appraisal of the Nation’s Bridges,
December 1995.
U.S Department of Transportation – Federal Highway Administration, 2015 Status of
the Nation’s Highways, Bridges, and Transit: Conditions and Performance, December
16, 2016.
United States Census Bureau, Population and Demographic Information, https://
factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/community_facts.xhtml, Accessed January
13, 2019
United States Government Accountability Office, Highway Bridges – Linking
Funding to Conditions May Help Demonstrate Impact of Federal Investment,
September 2016.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 17
DAMS
HYDROELECTRIC DAM PROJECT NEAR JOHN DAY, OREGON
© BAXTAR

DAMS
GRADE: D+

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Dams in Oregon provide flood control, drinking water, fish and wildlife protection, recreational areas, and hydro-
electric power, among other social and economic benefits. Oregon has 882 dams recorded in the National In-
ventory of Dams 2018 database. 820 dams are regulated by the state. Over the last decade, Oregon has slightly
improved funding for safety regulation of existing dams and increased the number of dams with Emergency Ac-
tion Plans. Additional legislation is in progress to modernize Oregon dam safety regulations. However, Oregon
dams are aging and there has been no change in funding made available for maintenance, repair, or replacement
of state regulated private dams. About two-thirds of Oregon’s dams are older than their typical 50-year design
life and over the next five years, over 70% of these dams will be over 50 years old. Meanwhile, Oregon remains
unprepared for extreme hydrologic and seismic events such as the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

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BACKGROUND
Dams in Oregon serve a variety of purposes that include irrigation, hydropower generation, water supply, fish and wildlife, recreation,
flood control, fire protection, and navigation. Many of Oregon’s dams were originally constructed to support irrigation operations and
520 of them still serve this original purpose.

FIGURE 1- OREGON DAMS BY PRIMARY PURPOSE (SOURCE: NID)

Oregon has both publicly and privately owned dams. Publicly owned dams include federally owned or regulated dams, such as those
owned and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) along the Columbia & Willamette Rivers. Hydropower gen-
erating dams, meanwhile, are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The majority of state regulated
dams and reservoirs in Oregon are non-federal structures.

FIGURE 2- OREGON DAM OWNERS (SOURCE: NID)


State Government Public Utility
1% 3%
Local Government
11%

Federal Government
16%

Private
69%

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Oregon dams are constructed in a variety of sizes and materials, built to different heights with different water storage volumes. A break-
down of dam types is detailed in Figure 3.

FIGURE 3- OREGON DAM TYPES (SOURCE: NID)

Except for hydropower or municipal water dams, most of the small dams in Oregon generate little if any revenue. Most dam owners are
farmers, homeowner associations, and flood control districts with limited funds. Many communities and agricultural interests depend on
dams for living and livelihood.

CONDITION & CAPACITY


Both the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) and USACE keep a database of all of Oregon’s dams. These databases differ
in their criteria for inclusion of dams but both agencies monitor similar physical and safety-related information. The largest reservoir by
storage capacity located entirely in Oregon is Owyhee dam, storing 1.2 million acre-feet.

Oregon defines a statutory dam being greater than 10 feet in height and retaining more than 9.2 acre-feet of water. Oregon assigns a
condition rating to each dam based on the following guidelines:

RATING DESCRIPTION
Satisfactory No dam safety deficiencies recognized or suspected.
Fair A minor dam safety deficiency exists or is suspected. The minor deficiency can be remediated with maintenance or
repair. Lack of maintenance or repair may not threaten the safety of the dam. A suspected deficiency under extreme
loading conditions could result in a serious safety deficiency.
Poor A dam safety deficiency is recognized or considered probable based on engineering review of loading conditions that
may occur.
Unsatisfactory A dam safety deficiency identified that under unusual but reasonably possible loading conditions could cause the dam to fail.
Under Analysis An engineering analysis for a suspected hydraulic, seismic, or internal erosion deficiency is underway.

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In addition, a three-tier classification system is used to prioritize all dams based on the consequence of dam failure.

CLASSIFICATION DESCRIPTION

High hazard potential dams A failure would cause probable loss of hu-
man life and substantial property damage.

Significant hazard potential A failure would result in no probable loss of


dams human life but would likely cause econom-
ic loss, disruption of lifeline facilities or
other impacts.

Low hazard potential dams A failure or misoperation would not likely


cause loss of human life or substantial
property damage.

The USACE National Inventory of Dams (NID) database includes Oregon dams meeting one of the following criteria:

•• High hazard potential


•• Significant hazard potential
•• Equal or exceed 25 feet in height, exceed 15 acre-feet in storage
•• Equal or exceed 50 acre-feet storage, exceed 6 feet in height
There are a total of 882 dams in Oregon that meet the NID criteria. Dams that do not meet the NID criteria are not discussed in this
report. Currently, 158 dams are rated as a high hazard potential. The federal government owns 57 of these dams, private interests own 45
dams, local governments own 43 dams, and power utilities own 13 dams. 21 of these high hazard dams have a condition rating of poor or
unsatisfactory and the state considers seven to be deficient. As of early 2019, all high hazard potential dams are inspected annually and
have emergency action plans (EAPs) in place. However, lower hazard dams, which account for the vast majority in the inventory, are sub-
ject to fewer inspections and rarely have EAPs. In 2019, there were three state regulated and at least one federally regulated high hazard
dam that lowered reservoir elevations due to condition.

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Dams are located throughout the state and are shown in Figure 4 below.

FIGURE 4 – DAMS IN OREGON (SOURCE: NID)

n RED indicates high hazard po-


tential dams. There are 158 high
hazard potential dams in Oregon.

n YELLOW indicates significant


hazard potential dams. There are
172 significant hazard potential
dams in Oregon.

n GREEN indicates low hazard


potential dams. There are 552 low
hazard potential dams in Oregon.

Most of the large federally owned or operated dams are in satisfactory condition with a few deficiencies. These include dams owned by
the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and those non-federal hydropower dams regulated by the Federal
Energy Regulatory Commission. Municipal water supply dams fair to satisfactory condition overall, except those closer to the Cascadia
Subduction Zone, where there are special concerns regarding seismic deficiencies. Irrigation dams range from a few in satisfactory condi-
tion to near unsafe condition.

Infrastructure age can be an indicator of overall condition. However, a dam that is properly designed, maintained and upgraded can oper-
ate safely longer than the design life. About two-thirds of Oregon’s dams are older than the typical design life of 50 years. Over the next
5 years, over 70% of Oregon’s dams will be older than a 50 year design life. Additionally, at least 76 of Oregon’s dams are over 100 years
old. Many of these older dams require repair, rehabilitation, or, if considered unsafe, removal.

Most of the federal and private hydropower dams in Oregon operate on run of the river conditions with minimum flood storage capacity.
While many of the state regulated municipal and privately owned dams east of the Cascade Mountains have sufficient spillway capacity,
there are some concerns regarding rainfall studies and probable maximum flood (PMF) events west of the Cascade Mountains. The
communities along the coast depend almost entirely on ground surface storage for drinking water. These areas have the highest risk of
overtopping due to an extreme rainfall event.

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OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


Proper operation, maintenance, and annual inspections are important to ensure dams are safe, meet their intended purposes, and reduce
risk of failure.

Federally owned and non-federal hydropower dams are inspected by federal agencies at a level that is considered sufficient to meet national
dam safety guidelines. State high hazard dams are inspected annually by two full time OWRD staff engineers. However, the state performs
no regular in-depth review and analysis of the design and safety of these dams. Oregon has a Watermasters program, where a total of 21
Watermasters work under a Water Resources Director to regulate water distribution. The Watermasters conduct visual inspections of low
and significant hazard dams every three years. There is no detailed review of these inspections by engineering staff.

Oregon does not have a comprehensive risk assessment program. Risk assessment can help to focus on identifying deficiencies and pri-
oritizing repairs to the highest risk dams. The state currently has limited or no authority to analyze dams for deficiencies, or to require
surveillance, monitoring or repairs.

FUNDING & FUTURE NEEDS


Dam failures threaten public safety and can cost the Oregon economy millions of dollars in damages. Failures are not just limited to damage
to the dam itself. They can result in loss of life and damage to private property, roads, bridges, water systems, and other critical infrastructure.

Funds, like grants, need to be available for both public and private dam owners to repair, upgrade, or safely remove aging facilities. Oregon
needs increased funds to rehabilitate deficient state regulated dams and to provide the staff necessary to manage critical aging infrastructure.

The dam safety incident at California’s Oroville Dam in 2017 is a good example of how additional cost can be incurred as a result of overcon-
fidence, inadequate priority for dam safety, and design vulnerabilities. The latest repair cost of Oroville is estimated to exceed $1.2 billion.
This cost excludes lost revenues from water and power sales.

Federally owned dams have dedicated budgets for operation and maintenance and they include maintenance and repair as annual operat-
ing costs. Most non-federal hydroelectric dams also have revenue sources sufficient to meet current safety requirements and upgrades.
However, most state regulated dams do not have dedicated revenue or funding to perform repairs, upgrades, or removal. Oregon has no
program for repair, rehabilitation, or removal of state regulated dams. Oregon lacks a strategy to provide reliable funding to correct pro-
gressive deterioration of dams.

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PUBLIC SAFETY & RESILIENCE


Loss of life and property damage are the common results of a dam failure. Oregon recorded 39 significant dam failures in Oregon over
the last 122 years. The Goodrich Dam in Baker County failed in 1896, killing a family of seven. The Bully Creek Dam in Malheur County
failed in 1925, flooding the town of Vale and causing widespread damage. More recently, the Simplot Waste Storage Dam near Hermiston
failed in 2005. This dam failure washed out a highway and a major irrigation canal, damaged private property, and left mud deposits on
agricultural land.

Resilience includes dam safety pre-disaster measures, effective response to emergencies, and rapid recovery from dam failures. Resilience
is improved when regulating agencies have the personnel to provide support and enforcement authority to require appropriate risk reduc-
tion measures, when seismic and hydrologic hazards are understood so that appropriate risk reduction measures can be implemented, and
when Emergency Action Plans are developed for pre-disaster planning.

Seismic and Hydrologic Hazards


Seismic (earthquake) risk in Oregon due to the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake event is extremely different from the previous
understanding of seismic risks in Oregon. Dams that were designed for a peak ground acceleration of 0.05g, equivalent to light shaking ex-
pected to rock parked cars, now must withstand 0.6g to 1.2g, equivalent to violent shaking expected to shift buildings off their foundations.
Most dams in Oregon were constructed prior to modern seismic provisions, and several need seismic retrofits. Damage and dam failures
are expected at many dams along the Oregon coast during the Cascadia Subduction Zone event.

•• Two City of Newport dams are just upstream of a water treatment plant and have known seismic deficiencies.
•• Dams owned by the City of Brookings and Josephine County have known seismic deficiencies.
•• Analysis of a dam above the Cities of Coos Bay and North Bend is underway to confirm a seismic deficiency.
•• U.S. Bureau of Reclamation Scoggins Dam in Washington County is at risk during a Cascadia Subduction Zone earth-
quake. Scoggins Dam supplies drinking water for 400,000 people and a failure would cause large scale flooding in
Washington County. Ongoing design efforts are underway to upgrade the dam, although complete remediation or
reconstruction will take years.
Seismic and hydrologic studies are urgently needed to understand the risks imposed on a dam and to ensure continued safety of the down-
stream public. Hydrologic (flood) risk requires assessment and regular reanalysis to accommodate new storms that have occurred. There
may be value in site specific hydrologic studies for some parts of Oregon, particularly in the intermountain areas in the southwest, where
the 1961 Seymour Falls storm from British Columbia is used to create a design storm. There are questions about data limitations and storm
relevance to mountainside geographies. Appropriate pre-disaster remediation measures should be implemented as soon as practicable
following the identification of any deficiencies by seismic or hydrologic studies.

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Emergency Action Plan


A preferred method for minimizing loss of life and property damage in the event of a dam failure is the establishment of an Emergency Ac-
tion Plan (EAP), a formal pre-disaster planning document that identifies potential emergency conditions at a dam and specifies response
actions for the dam owner and emergency management authorities. Federal dam safety programs require EAPs and periodic testing of
EAPs for significant and high hazard federally owned or non-federal hydropower generating dams. Following 2017 legislation in the form
of House Bill 3427, all high hazard dams have EAPs in place or under development. Prior to the bill, approximately 77 percent of state
regulated high hazard dams in Oregon had EAPs. All Oregon high hazard dams now have an emergency action plan.

Limited Enforcement Authority


The state dam safety program is understaffed and does not currently possess the enforcement powers to carry out appropriate oversight.
The OWRD has limited authority to order the breach of an unsafe dam following a lengthy hearings process, but not the authority to re-
quire a dam owner to take other safety actions, including the implementation of risk reduction measures to address seismic or hydrologic
deficiencies. The Oregon HB 2085 was introduced into the 2019 legislative session. This bill significantly changes ORS dam safety statutes
to modernize state laws; provide the opportunity to address seismic, hydrologic, and internal erosion deficiencies; identify roles and respon-
sibilities; provide emergency response provisions; and clarify the enforcement authority of the OWRD. The bill or equivalent legislation
should be passed to improve state enforcement authority and modernize Oregon state dam safety.

Staffing
State dam safety engineering staff perform critical tasks including high hazard dam inspection, review of Watermaster inspections, and
support of Oregon dam owners as they manage seismic and hydrologic risks and develop EAPs. The OWRD Dam Safety Engineer provides
input to the Oregon Cascadia emergency management playbook and to state flood and drought planning. Currently, the state dam safety
program has two full time equivalent (FTE) engineering staff. Compared to similar states, Oregon has the lowest number of engineers and
the lowest ratio of engineers to high hazard dams in the west. In contrast, federal dam safety programs are generally well funded and staffed.
Three additional state dam safety engineering staff are necessary to match other states with similar dam safety needs.

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DAMS

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Adopt Oregon HB 2085 as proposed or enact equivalent legislation to modernize
state dam safety laws, address state dam deficiencies, and clarify the enforcement
authority of the OWRD.
•• Provide funding for additional state dam safety staff to improve the dam
inspection program and to support enforcement action for deficient dams. Three
additional engineering staff are necessary to match other states with similar dam
safety needs.
•• Set up a dedicated state fund for the repair, replacement, or removal of unsafe or
failing high and significant hazard dams.
•• The state should develop a risk assessment program to prioritize dams in need of
repair, rehabilitation, or removal.
•• Implement a statewide awareness campaign to educate individuals on the location
and condition of dams in their area and become more “dam aware.”

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 26
DAMS

SOURCES
Association of State Dam Safety Officials, Oregon Performance Report
Mills, K. 2019. Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD), Dam Safety
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Inventory of Dams
OWRD Dam Safety Program Inventory Database – 2018 Summary
ORS 788, 2009
OHB 3427
OHB 2085, 2018
Mucken, A., and Bateman, B. (Eds.). 2017. Oregon’s 2017 Integrated Water
Resources Strategy. Oregon Water Resources Department. Salem, OR
FEMA Federal Guidelines for Emergency Action Planning for Dams
Tualatin Basin Water Supply Partners. Latest News About Water Supply Design
Improvements. http://tualatinbasinwatersupply.org. Accessed: January 2019
Hanson, E.M., Fenn, D.D., Corrigan, P., Vogel, J.L., Schreiner, L.C., and Stodt, R.W.
1994. Hydrometerological Report No. 57 (HMR 57). National Weather Service (NWS).

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 27
DRINKING
WATER
WATER TREATMENT PROCESS

DRINKING WATER
GRADE: C-

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Drinking water infrastructure in Oregon faces a variety of challenges. The state’s population is growing rap-
idly, meaning continuous investment in drinking water infrastructure is necessary to expand treatment and
distribution system capacity. Additionally, there is a need to replace old or failed components of drinking water
infrastructure, including cast iron pipes that are over 100 years old and still in service in some places. While
investments in new infrastructure are expensive, delaying needed system upgrades is not a viable alternative.
Meanwhile, there is growing recognition of the challenge to the resiliency of Oregon’s water systems posed by
a major earthquake generated by the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Preparing for a major earthquake will require
substantial additional funding to harden water networks so that they are capable of resisting this threat.

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INTRODUCTION
There are an estimated 3,386 public drinking water systems currently in operation in Oregon that are subject to regulation under the
federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Approximately 80 percent of Oregonians get their drinking water from public water systems, while
the remainder rely on private wells or small private water systems. Of those that rely on public water systems, 35 percent of Oregonians
rely solely on groundwater and about 10 percent rely solely on surface water. The remaining 55 percent have a combination of surface
water and groundwater sources, most commonly with groundwater as an emergency backup or seasonal supply particularly for larger
communities such as Portland, Salem, and Medford.

The population of Oregon has increased by more than 12 percent in the last decade, from 3.85 million in 2010 to more than 4.2
million today. Projected population growth will continue to increase demand. New surface and groundwater source development and
the distribution of water to new users are challenges. Water conservation, reuse and non-potable water use may become increasingly
important to reduce demand for drinking water and minimize the need to upgrade systems. Securing funding for capital projects
represents the largest hurdle to meeting new capacity demands.

CONDITION
Drinking water systems typically require extensive transmission, water storage, and distribution systems consisting of pipelines, storage
reservoirs, and pump stations to bring water from the source, to the treatment facility, and then to the customers. Each of these
components typically has a fixed design life and many components were not designed or constructed to current engineering standards.
Reservoirs and dams typically have a design life of 50 to 80 years, mechanical and electrical pumping stations have an expected life
of 25 to 50 years, and the mechanical and electrical components in treatment plants can be expected to have a life of 15 to 25 years.
Over time, these components wear out and must be replaced. Pipeline life expectancy can vary depending on the type of pipe material
used and the installation methods in practice, but in many cases, pipes can still be in service well over 100 years old.

For example, the Cities of Portland and Salem still have extensive footages of cast iron pipe that is well-over 100 years old and still in
service in their systems. Water utilities are continuously challenged by the need to replace old pipeline, and most utilities have limited
programs for annual pipeline replacement. Replacement decisions are driven by pipe age, condition (breakage history) and capacity
issues. Breaks in distribution (<24” diameter) system piping are repaired as quickly as possible, yet water main breaks are an accepted
“fact of life” which water utilities continuously have to deal with.

Most knowledgeable engineers rate cast and ductile iron pipe as both having an estimated useful life of 125 years. Proof of this claim
is provided by the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA), which ductile and cast iron longevity through the Cast Iron Pipe
Century Club, which recognizes water utilities that have cast iron pipe still in service that is at least 100 years old. There are currently
534 utilities listed on the DIPRA website as members of the cast iron pipe Century Club, and an additional 23 utilities that are
members of the cast iron pipe Sesquicentennial Club for having cast iron pipe at least 150 years old that is still in service. Both Salem
and Portland provided data on their cast iron pipe -lengths that are still in service. Both utilities commented that they have no plans to
remove and replace this old pipe, as long as it continues to perform well (i.e., no leaks). Cast iron pipe data for both utilities are provided
below as Tables 1 and 2.

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TABLE 1 - CITY OF SALEM CAST IRON PIPE DATA

TIME PERIOD FOOTAGE OF CAST IRON MILES OF CAST IRON


PIPE INSTALLED PIPE INSTALLED
1890 – 1895 2,601 0.49
1895 – 1900 - -
1900 – 1905 33,203 6.29
1905 – 1910 1,469 0.28
1910 – 1915 25,214 4.78
1915 – 1920 6,587 1.25
1920 – 1925 14,895 2.82
1925 – 1930 34,409 6.52
1930 – 1935 3,870 0.73
1935 – 1940 27,823 5.27
1940 – 1945 4,380 0.83
1945 – 1950 42,177 7.99
1950 – 1955 41,182 7.80
1955 – 1960 41,007 7.77
1960 – 1965 64,567* 12.23
Total: 343,384 ft 65.03 mi.

*: During this time period, most cities in the US were converting to ductile iron pipe,
so this high number may be a combination of both cast and ductile iron.
Data courtesy City of Salem Public Works Dept.

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TABLE 2 – CITY OF PORTLAND CAST IRON PIPE USAGE

AGE COHORT FOOTAGE CI MILES CI (MI)


UNK Date 170,362 32.25
Pre 1900 70,276 13.31
1900-1904 226,670 42.93
1905-1909 416,592 78.39
1910-1914 1,433,573 271.51
1915-1919 244,781 46.36
1920-1924 673,147 127.49
1925-1929 865,286 163.88
1930-1934 206,069 36.93
1935-1939 152,011 28.79
1940-1944 234,221 44.36
1945-1949 302,808 57.35
1950-1954 537,768 101.85
1955-1959 656,040 124.25
1960-1964* 527,630 99.93
Total: 6,717,234 ft. 1272.20 mi.

*: During this time period, most cities in the US were converting to ductile iron pipe,
so this high number may be a combination of both cast and ductile iron.

Data courtesy Portland Water Bureau

There is no statewide database for the collection of water pipeline age data, so it is not possible to prepare statewide estimates of
pipeline age, however, most municipalities maintain pipeline age data for their individual water systems. It is likely that the bulk of
drinking water pipelines in Oregon are less than 100 years old.

In addition to the ongoing need to replace aged and worn out components of the state’s water infrastructure, Oregon is also facing major
challenges associated with a growing understanding of the risks to water systems from a major (9M+) potential earthquake generated
by the Cascadia Subduction zone off the Oregon coast. This risk is primarily confined to coastal areas and the Willamette Valley. As the
magnitude of this threat to water system integrity has become widely understood in western Oregon, water utilities have undertaken
programs to “harden” their water systems and make them better able to survive a major earthquake and remain in service. Hardening
measures include improving the foundations and wall-to-foundation anchorage of above ground reservoirs and pump stations and using
restrained joint pipe wherever possible to reduce the risk of pipes being pulled out of their sockets during an earthquake.

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PUBLIC SAFETY
An estimated 600,000 Oregonians get their drinking water from individual domestic wells not covered by either state or federal
drinking water standards. According to the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD), there are currently 250,000 water
supply wells in the state, although about 90 percent of licensed wells are used for irrigation purposes.

The majority of wells are shallow (<200 feet) and are located in unconfined aquifers in Oregon’s river valleys. These shallow wells are
considered the most vulnerable to pollution and many are identified by OWRD as highly sensitive based on the characteristics of the
well or spring and of the aquifer that serves the well or spring. Domestic drinking water supply wells are not routinely tested for water
quality and state law only requires testing at the time of a real estate transaction.

Assuring the safe quality of drinking water supplies in Oregon is a collaborative responsibility of both the Oregon Health Division
Drinking Water Program and the individual Oregon water system owners. The vehicle for assuring that all water systems are providing
safe water to their users is compliance with the water quality standards contained in the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. All Oregon
water system operators are required to abide by the provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act, maintain meticulous records of routine
laboratory testing, and must self-report all violations to the Oregon Health Division Drinking Water Program.

Data from 2018, the most recent year for which full-year water quality violation data are available, shows that a total of 181 violations were
reported, involving a total of 82 separate water systems. Drinking Water Program staff commented that these totals for 2018 were “about
average” for the state and cover a wide-range of causative factors from treatment process upsets at treatment plants due to operator error,
changes in influent water quality due to environmental or weather factors, system mechanical failures that required emergency repairs,
and a variety of other factors. Drinking Water Program staff noted that 2018 violations occurred in both small and large water systems and
reflect the fact that drinking water systems are complex engineered systems that require constant supervision and ongoing maintenance,
and that even the “best” water systems are not immune to upsets and water quality violations. In our opinion, the Oregon Health Division
Drinking Water Program is functioning well, and provides a vital safeguard to the state’s drinking water supplies.
A VALVE CONNECTING TWO LARGE IRON PIPES.

© VICTORIA SHAPIRO
CLOSE UP SHOT.

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TABLE 3. OREGON DRINKING WATER QUALITY REPORTED VIOLATIONS FOR 2018

FEDERALLY REPORTED KEY CONTAMINANT MAXIMUM CONTAMINANT LEVEL (MCL) VIOLATIONS


GROUPS 2018 NUMBER OF VIOLATIONS NUMBER OF WATER
SYSTEMS WITH
VIOLATIONS
Volatile Organic Chemicals 0 0
Synthetic Organic Chemicals 0 0
Inorganic Contaminants 0 0
Nitrates 9 5
Arsenic 33 9
Coliform Bacteria 16 16
Surface Water Treatment Rule 79 26
Groundwater Rule 32 14
Lead and Copper Rule* 4 4
Disinfection By-Products 8 8
Radiologicals 0 0
Totals: 181 82
* Lead and copper rule review of violations:
did not install Corrosion control treatment 1 1
corrosion control treatment technique 3 3
did not report corrosion control recommendation,
public education late,
routine tap monitoring (90%)

Data provided by Oregon Health Division Drinking Water Program

Drinking water systems provide a critical public health function and are essential to life, economic development, and community growth.
Disruptions in water service can hinder disaster response and recovery efforts, expose the public to waterborne contaminants, and cause
damage to roadways, structures and other infrastructure, endangering lives and resulting in significant financial losses. Water main
breaks and washouts are just some of the examples that illustrate this risk. Adequate water supplies are also critical to fire suppression
as was recently highlighted by the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

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FUNDING
Funding for drinking water infrastructure projects is largely derived from user fees collected by individual utilities. Funding from rate
payers can be leveraged with support from federal funding provided to the state, either under the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund or the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) Program. These funds
help states have the flexibility to fund a range of projects that address their highest priority water quality needs such as constructing
municipal wastewater facilities, control nonpoint sources of pollution, etc. The Oregon Economic and Community Development
Department’s (OECDD) Water/Wastewater Fund Program utilizes federal programs to then provide significant funding to communities
seeking financing for projects to correct compliance issues. The Safe Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (SDWRLF) and the Drinking
Water Source Protection Fund (DWSPF) are used within the state to fund drinking water system improvements needed to maintain
compliance with the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Additionally, the Oregon Safe Drinking Water Fund is funded by yearly grants
from the EPA and matched with funds from the state Water/Wastewater Financing Program and management by the Oregon Health
Authority and the Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority. As of June 30, 2015, the SDWRLF, with the help of the EPA, has
provided more than $250 million toward these water system improvements since its inception.

In the 2018 selection round, the City of Hillsboro (COH) and the Tualatin Valley Water District (TVWD) (joint applicants) successfully
competed at the national level and won a long term, low-interest rate loan from the US EPA under the WIFIA program in the amount
of $617 million to construct the Willamette Water Supply Program, which will supply the two users with additional resilient water supply
capacity. Phase 1 will provide 60 million gallons per day (MGD) of drinking water to TVWD and COH. The loan covers upgrades to
the existing intake, 6.2 miles of raw water pipeline, a new 60 MGD water treatment facility, 25.3 miles of finished water pipeline, and
30 million gallons of terminal storage capacity. Other Oregon communities and water partnerships should consider this competitive
funding source for future major water system expansions as well.

Some water utilities have implemented policies of making small rate adjustments on an annual basis to provide additional funding over
system operational and maintenance requirements covered by the basic water rate structure to accumulate funds for needed system
improvement projects.

FUTURE NEED
According to the League of Oregon Cities’ 2016 Infrastructure Survey (Water) Report, $7.6 billion is required for several critical
drinking water projects in Oregon, including new or rehabilitated drinking water storage, treatment, and distribution facilities. Of this
amount, $4.3 billion is needed for water treatment projects while the remainder should be allocated toward water supply, transmission
and storage needs. This is a 70 percent increase from the $4.48 billion that was reported in the 2010 Infrastructure Report Card. As
can be expected, areas with more people were more likely to need additional water storage.

Considering the recent wild fire events throughout the state, greater fire-fighting storage capacity will also be necessary for catastrophic
events, such as the expected Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake. According to the Oregon Resilience Plan, nearly all reservoirs and
tanks are likely to experience some damage at the connection between the buried pipe system and the reservoir structure. On a positive
note, about 13 percent of the state’s water storage tanks were built after 2000 to seismically-resistant design standards and will most
likely remain intact due to modern stringent lateral force requirements for design earthquake forces.

In general, per capita water usage is declining. This can be attributed to successful water conservation education efforts by utilities in recent
years, the implementation of progressive rate structures, and greater overall system efficiency (i.e. pipeline repair/replacement) in select
areas throughout the state. However, with a continuously growing population and aging infrastructure, more investment is needed.

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RESILIENCE
The risks of Oregon’s drinking water systems experiencing major damage in a Cascade Subduction Zone major earthquake were well-
documented in the February 2013 Oregon Resilience Plan. As noted in the plan, drinking water pipeline networks have numerous
points of potential failure. Further, these networks “are highly dependent on other seismically vulnerable resources, such as power,
transportation, chemicals, and skilled staff.” Of further concern is that many aspects of the drinking water network, including reservoirs,
pump stations, and treatment plants, were built before seismic risks were well understood and codes and standards were upgraded.
Should a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake strike the region today, most water system facilities along the coast would likely be
damaged beyond repair and many (particularly older facilities further inland that have not yet been seismically upgraded) would likely
be unable to return to full operation for months or possibly even years.

ARTIST’S CONCEPT OF THE CITY OF PORTLAND WASHINGTON PARK RESERVOIR IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
(CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION), WHICH HAS BEEN ENGINEERED TO WITHSTAND ONGOING
LANDSLIDE ENCROACHMENT AND FUTURE SEISMIC EVENTS.

Source: Portland Water Bureau

Another seismic-related threat to Oregon’s drinking water systems is related to soil liquification. Should a major earthquake hit the
Northwest region, alluvial and fill deposits along rivers would begin moving towards riverbanks. Older cast iron water pipelines would fail
and newer PVC and ductile iron pipelines would be pulled apart, resulting in a total loss of water pressure. Such incidents would leave
Oregonians without access to clean, potable drinking water for weeks, months, or even years.

This growing understanding of western Oregon’s water systems seismic vulnerability is beginning to be translated into the inclusion
of seismic resilience components into the design of new water system infrastructure projects, such as installing seismically-activated
shutoff valves on reservoirs and pump stations, which has become a standard best practice. Nevertheless, there is more significant work
needed to complete the necessary water system seismic upgrades and system expansion and replacement projects to protect these
systems in a major earthquake.

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INNOVATION
Many drinking water utilities throughout the state are employing innovative practices to enhance public outreach and service for their
customers. For example, the Portland Water Bureau has developed an interactive online tool called WaterWorks where customers can
find out real-time info on water repairs happening in their neighborhood.

Another major innovative development in recent years regarding how major water system improvement projects can be financed is
through the creation of water partnerships for a given watershed or water service area. A partnership allows adjacent communities within
a service area to pool water rights and financial resources, thereby spreading the risk and the project costs over a broader customer base
than would be possible for any single community or water utility alone, with a reduced impact on individual water rate payers. Two recent
examples are the Lake Oswego – Tigard Water Partnership, which successfully leveraged a $250 million major upgrade to construct a
new 38 MGD water treatment plant within the footprint of the existing Lake Oswego water treatment plant, including a new intake
on the Clackamas River, transmission pipeline, and additional storage capacity. A second example is the new Willamette River intake,
treatment plant and transmission pipeline project for the Joint Water Commission in Washington County for the Cities of Beaverton,
Forest Grove, Hillsboro and the Tualatin Valley Water District.

1960S VINTAGE CITY OF LAKE OSWEGO WATER TREATMENT PLANT BEING DEMOLISHED FOR
CONSTRUCTION OF NEW LAKE OSWEGO – TIGARD WATER PARTNERSHIP PLANT MOSTLY
WITHIN THE OLD PLANT FOOTPRINT

Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership

NEW FILTER BEDS BEING POURED FOR LAKE OSWEGO – TIGARD WATER PARTNERSHIP PLANt

Lake Oswego-Tigard Water Partnership

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DRINKING
WATER

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Conduct a thorough seismic resiliency risk assessment of all key water system
components, particularly above-ground reservoirs and water treatment and
pumping plants for all water systems in Oregon.
•• Initiate an extensive public information campaign to raise public awareness
of supply and infrastructure shortcomings, particularly related to seismic
resilience and create support for increasing user rates.
•• Create a seismic risk assessment and mitigation plan for each water system in
western Oregon following a seismic event
•• Work closely with Oregon’s Congressional representatives to ensure full
funding of the federal EPA State Revolving Loan Fund Program, which
provides the “seed” money to the state to fund loans to local water utilities.
•• Increase the research and development of sustainable and policy solutions to
water shortages
•• Create and increase public awareness for a state-wide water conservation
program.

SOURCES
City of Salem, Public Works Dept.
Lake Oswego – Tigard Water Partnership
Portland Water Bureau
Oregon Health Division – Drinking Water Program
US EPA Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)
US Census Bureau, Portland State Oregon Population Statistics Center
Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA)

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 37
ENERGY
FIGURE 3: WIND AND SOLAR GENERATION IN CLOSE PROXIMITY

(PHOTO: ALEX LOCKARD)


IN EASTERN OREGON

ENERGY
GRADE: D+

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oregon benefits from reliable and affordable energy resources and ranks among the top five states in terms of
renewable energy production. Excellent strides are evident in energy efficiency, renewable energy expansion,
reduction of fossil fuel consumption as well as energy sector innovations. While renewable energy infrastructure is
generally newer and in good condition much of the time, the existing energy grid is aging. Electrical transmission
capacity has less reserve capacity than in the past, causing bottlenecks and constraints regarding operation of the
grid. Most petroleum transmission systems and equipment are over 50 years old and storage tanks are over 100
years old. Additionally, a major concern is the ability of the energy network to perform in the instance of a major
Cascadia earthquake. Large portions of the petroleum energy system would be rendered unusable, as transmission
and distribution networks lack redundancy and currently exhibit poor conditions.

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BACKGROUND
Oregon’s energy sources can be categorized into three areas: electricity, natural gas, and liquid petroleum-based fuels. The infrastructure
required to deliver energy to homes and businesses include generation or supply, long-distance transmission, and local distribution.
Virtually all Oregon commerce and industry, as well as all other infrastructure categories, rely on an adequate and stable energy supply.
State-level governing bodies in the energy sector include the Oregon Department of Energy and Oregon Public Utility Commission
(PUC), which regulates investor-owned electric and gas utilities.

Oregon’s energy resources are closely tied to geographic features and climate conditions. The mighty Columbia River cuts through
the Cascade Range forming the Columbia Gorge, creating an area which has proven ideal for wind power generation. Large dams along
the river, fed by runoff from the Rocky Mountains, generate most of the hydroelectric power not only in Oregon, but throughout
the Pacific Northwest. The high desert in eastern Oregon is well-situated for wind, solar and geothermal energy development. The
mild temperatures and abundant rainfall in the western part of the state contribute to rapid tree growth, which, along with agricultural
waste-products, are ample sources of biomass for power generation. While the state is endowed with many natural resources that
support renewable electricity generation, it lacks resources in the areas of natural gas and liquid fuels; virtually all of those energy
supplies are imported from out of state.

CAPACITY
Oregon’s current capacity for electrical generation and natural gas are adequate, but the capacity for petroleum is strained. Oregon
is one of the top three hydroelectric power producers in the nation, accounting for more than 12 percent of U.S. hydroelectric
generation in 2017. Regional power plants built in past decades, including hydro and fossil fuel facilities, continue to provide service at
the same time renewable energy is rapidly increasing. New power plants and power lines are needed to serve growing energy demand.
In addition, Boardman, the state’s only coal-fired power plant, plans to end the use of coal by December 31, 2020 due to the 2016
passage of the “Clean Electricity and Coal Transition” bill. Thus, the amount of coal in Oregon’s electricity resource mix will be greatly
reduced and other resources that comprise Oregon’s electricity resource mix will increase.

Electrical transmission capacity has less reserve capacity than in the past, causing bottlenecks and constraints regarding operation of
the grid, particularly when hydro production is slack. In contrast, the distribution capacity is adequate to meet current demands.

For natural gas, additional transmission assets will be needed to meet future growth, whereas distribution capacity is adequate. Gas
storage is limited to peak shaving facilities and would be unable to meet demand in Oregon.

For petroleum, Oregon is dependent on the largely linear and non-redundant supply chain, which has a strained capacity. Similar to
larger, heavier trucks that strain older, under-capacity bridges, petroleum terminal operations involve use of marine vessels that are
larger than originally intended.

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FIGURE 1: FUELS USED TO GENERATE ELECTRICITY USED IN OREGON

CONDITION
Overall, Oregon’s existing infrastructure is aging, but new energy and transmission projects are coming online each year, including
renewable energy projects. The condition for the electricity, natural gas and petroleum infrastructure is largely controlled by the age
of the assets (e.g., Puget Sound refineries and pipeline capacity).

For electricity, the majority of transmission system and equipment are greater than 50 years old. Bonneville Power Administration
(BPA) owns and operates the majority of the transmission grid in the Pacific NW, including Oregon. BPA began building transmission
infrastructure in the late 1930s and continues to do so today. In contrast, renewable infrastructure is mostly less than 10 years old.

The majority of natural gas transmission infrastructure was constructed in the 1960s and 1970s. When maintained properly, these
assets can remain in service for many more years. Of concern is infrastructure that is 60+ years old and the increasing expense of
maintaining older facilities. Gas storage facilities in Oregon have undergone modernization projects over the past two years.

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The earliest age of the petroleum infrastructure dates back to the early 1900s. Based on observations, the facilities are in poor condition
and mitigation techniques are insufficient. The transmission pipelines were largely constructed in the 1960s. Some storage tanks are
over 100 years old. Most storage is on hydraulic fill, which is susceptible to liquefaction.

FIGURE 2: PORTLAND FUEL TERMINAL, DEMONSTRATING POOR CONDITION OF SOME COMPONENTS


(PHOTO: YUMEI WANG)

FUNDING
Funding for energy capital projects, operation, and maintenance is largely controlled by private utilities, as well as regulators. Currently,
Oregon legislature is studying adoption of a cap and trade program for carbon, which could alter the energy generation landscape and
funding of future projects.

Regional power plants built in past decades, including hydro and fossil fuel plants, continue to provide service at legacy prices. However,
new power plants and power lines are needed to serve growing energy demand and will pressure prices upward.

For renewable energy, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and the state Renewable Portfolio Standard are significant contributors to the
growth of the industry. The PTC is set to expire soon, however, and the wind industry is proactively gearing up for growth in the post-
PTC world where ecomomic viability of new plants will have to be realized on their own merits versus tax incentives.

End-user electricity prices in Oregon are generally low with prices up to 15 percent below the national average. Natural gas prices are
typically comparable to the national average.

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FUTURE NEED
Looking ahead, Oregon has significant opportunities for increased energy generation capacity, particularly with wind, solar, geothermal,
biomass, and wave. While Oregon’s total energy consumption is increasing, the per capita consumption in the state is decreasing. The
decrease in per capita consumption is a result of technological advances in energy generation and consumption along with consumer
awareness and education.

For electricity, Oregon’s renewable energy portfolio standard requires that, by 2040, the state’s largest utilities acquire 50 percent
of the electricity from renewable energy sources. Smaller utilities have a target of 10 percent renewable electricity by 2025, and the
smallest utilities --those serving less than 1.5 percent of the state’s power demand -- have a target of 5 percent.

For natural gas, the transmission pipeline capacity is limited, but conservation and storage help offset new demand. Additional pipeline
capacity and alternate sources of supply will be required to meet future demand and ensure continuity of service.

For petroleum, the supplier options and existing transmission pipeline capacity is limited. Conservation, newer and advanced technologies,
and further innovation will help offset new demand. Improving conditions at existing facilities is needed. New transmission pipelines
and storage facilities will be required to improve public safety and disaster resilience. Improved distribution options may also be needed.

OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE


As Oregon’s existing infrastructure ages and regulations change, maintaining the infrastructure’s condition while complying with
regulations has its challenges.

Oregon’s electricity and natural gas companies generally maintain their existing infrastructure through continued prioritized maintenance
and capital improvement programs, resulting in systems which are generally in adequate-to-good condition. Although Oregon has
recently been in the top 12 states for number of annual power outages, the state ranks well in overall electricity reliability when other
factors such as duration and severity of outages. All natural gas providers are regulated by the Oregon Public Utility Commission and
meet regulatory compliance standards to operate. Many, but not all, of Oregon’s electricity providers are regulated by the Oregon
PUC and meet compliance standards.

For petroleum facilities, operations and maintenance practices vary widely depending on the owner and operator.

Oregon’s electricity delivery system has a good reliability ranking being in the top 34 percent in the US.. Oregon has a good public
safety record both in protecting the public from hazards associated with physical assets and from a reliable transmission system with
few outages. By following ASCE Standards and Manuals of Practices, transmission in Oregon often exceeds the standards set forth by
National Electrical Safety Code (NESC). On the other hand, distribution usually only meets the minimum requirements of the NESC
leading to low reliability and thus the high incidences of power outages in the state.

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PUBLIC SAFETY
In general, the energy sector has consistently maintained a high level of public safety. However, with the growing recognition of society’s
increased reliance on the energy sector, there are new concerns about public safety. Starting in 2017, the State of Oregon has been
requiring proposed energy facilities to consider disaster resilience and future climate in their proposed design.

Natural gas transmission lines located in High Consequence Areas receive integrity assessments at regular intervals to maintain
public safety. Safety designs in the physical system are included, such as automated shut-off valves, which can be used to isolate areas
mitigating possible negative consequences.

The petroleum sector has various regulators, but none have adequately addressed significant seismic hazards. Interstate pipelines are
regulated by U.S. DOT’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), but the agency does not require seismic
evaluations nor mitigation on existing seismic deficiencies. Existing equipment and components at Portland fuel terminals used for
storage and distribution are seismically vulnerable and pose significant public safety concerns.

RESILIENCE
Many hazards were unknown or did not exist when older facilities were constructed, including the Cascadia earthquake threat and
cyber-attacks. During normal day-to-day conditions, the performance of Oregon’s energy infrastructure is widely considered to be
satisfactory.

Continued improvements to the three energy sector components are needed to increase the resiliency of the existing systems. In
2013, the PUC started to require investor owned utilities to conduct seismic vulnerability analyses and implement mitigation plans.
Significant investment will be required to achieve desired recovery goals indicated in Oregon Resilience Plan (www.oregon.gov).

Natural gas transmission facilities are at risk due to natural forces such as land movement and seismic activity. The distribution system
is designed for redundancy and resiliency. Underground gas storage facilities are expected to fare well. Existing LNG facilities are
designed to contain product but return to service would likely take an extended period of time.

Petroleum is the state’s most vulnerable and least resilient energy sector due to the system’s low redundancy, existing conditions and
lack of seismic safety preparedness.

INNOVATION
Future innovation needs involve both increased capacity and improved efficiency of existing facilities and by consumers. Further
advancing innovative projects involving smart grid, microgrid projects, biofuel and possibly nuclear are warranted.

In addition to advancing renewables, innovation for energy infrastructure is needed to assist in repairing or replacing aging infrastructure
and constructing new infrastructure to adjust for the state’s increasing population, as well as to increase resilience of energy generation,
transmission and distribution.

Oregon is in the early stages of tapping its marine and hydrokinetic energy resources. The U.S. Department of Energy’s National
Renewable Energy Laboratory deployed buoys off the Oregon coast during the summer of 2017 to record wave and tide movements
in support of projects designed to convert energy from waves into electricity. Oregon State University is building a wave energy test
facility, which is expected to be operational by 2020.

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ENERGY

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Continue to invest in operations and maintenance, public safety and resiliency,
including multi-hazards, Cascadia earthquake preparedness, and cybersecurity.
•• Mitigate Oregon’s petroleum supply chain vulnerabilities, including transmission,
storage and distribution. This will improve Oregon’s most significant energy sector
vulnerability.
•• Implement a systems approach for resilience, including for rehabilitation projects
as well as new projects. As an example, evaluate life cycle costs and disaster
preparedness when making decisions for components, systems, and systems-of-
systems.
•• Increase new investment in public safety, reliability, and resiliency of Oregon’s
energy sector; specifically, ASCE Standards and Manuals of Practices should be
followed for the electric distribution infrastructure

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 44
ENERGY

SOURCES
2013 Oregon Risk Study on Critical Energy Infrastructure
2013 Oregon Resilience Plan by the Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Commission
(OSSPAC)
USDOT Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA)
Oregon integrated resource plans (IRP)
Petroleum Administration for Defense District (PADD)
Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC)
Oregon Department of Energy
Northwest Power and Conservation Council
Public Utility Commission of Oregon
Oregon Department of Forestry, Biomass
State of Oregon Department of Geology and Minerals Industry, Mineral Land Regulation &
Reclamation
NC Clean Technology Center, Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency
(DSIRE)
National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), Energy
National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)-Geospatial Data Science
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Bonneville Power Administration

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 45
INLAND
WATERWAYS
PIERS END ON TILLAMOOK BAY IN GARIBALDI, OREGON, USA. PIERS END
ON TILLAMOOK BAY IN GARIBALDI, OREGON. PACIFIC NORTHWEST.
© DIGIMAX

INLAND WATERWAYS
GRADE: C-

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oregon is home to two major waterways– the Columbia and Willamette rivers – that are used to move wheat,
soybeans, grain, wood, mineral bulks, vehicles and more. These 681 miles of waterways and ports in Oregon sup-
port close to 21,000 jobs and contribute $3.6 billion to the economy. Although the inland waterway network
has sufficient capacity, and the infrastructure is in adequate condition to accommodate current cargo and vessel
movements, much of the infrastructure is in need of repair or upgrades. Current funding has maintained the status
quo and is not adequately addressing the aging and deteriorating jetties, locks, and pile dike structures. There are
inadequate turning basins, anchorages, and stern buoys to accommodate the larger vessels transiting the Columbia
River. With industry trends to move cargo in larger and deeper draft vessels, Oregon’s deep draft channels cannot
fully accommodate these large vessels and will likely require additional deepening to accommodate the larger ships
and remain viable in the future.

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COLUMBIA RIVER

Over $24 Billion of manufactured goods, ag-


ricultural and food products and basic chemi-
cals were shipped to and from Oregon through
Oregon’s waterways and ports. Oregon’s 681
miles of navigable waterways and ports support
20,925 Oregon jobs and directly contribute
$3.6 billion to Oregon’s economy.

Photo courtesy of Port of Portland

BACKGROUND
Oregon’s primary navigable waterway is the Columbia River and lower section of the Willamette River that makes up the Portland harbor.
The Columbia Snake river system is a critical gateway for a large geographical area of the U.S. that includes Oregon, Washington, Idaho,
Montana and Wyoming. According to 2016 data, the Columbia River system was the nation’s number one export gateway for wheat, the
number two gateway for soybeans, and the third largest grain export corridor in the world. The Columbia River system is also the West
Coast’s number one wood and mineral bulks export gateway and a leading importer/exporter of vehicles. In 2017, the Columbia & Lower
Willamette Federal Navigation Channel was used to transport 47.5 million tons of cargo valued at $16 billion.

COLUMBIA SNAKE RIVER SYSTEM

DEEP DRAFT CHANNEL FACTS:


•• 105 miles, 43 feet deep
•• Over 50 million tons of international trade in 2016
•• At least $21 billion in cargo value
•• 40,000 local jobs are dependent on this trade

INLAND NAVIGATION FACTS:


•• 360 miles, 14 feet deep, from Portland/Vancou-
ver to Lewiston, Idaho
•• Over 9 million tons of commercial cargo in 2014
•• Important gateway for U.S. wheat and forest
products
•• Over 18,000 cruise passengers in 2017, with
$15M in direct economic benefits to the region
(Image and facts Courtesy of PNWA website)

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TILLAMOOK BAY

The 12 waterways systems along the Or-


egon coast provide access to the Pacific
Ocean for the 14 coastal ports and com-
mercial fishing and recreational marinas
located along the coastal rivers and bays.
The coastal waterways include large scale
jetties or breakwater structures, channels,
harbors, turning and boat basins of varying
depth and width needed to provide ship
and boating access to the marinas and
ports along the Oregon coast

Photo courtesy of OPPA

CAPACITY
Overall, Oregon’s waterways have sufficient shipping capacity for the current cargo volumes. The lower Columbia River was deepened in
2010 to 43 feet, which increased deep draft cargo ship capacity. Although 1,473 ships called the Columbia River in 2018, well below the
2,283 recorded in 2000, cargo volumes continue to break records as larger and deeper draft vessels navigate the river.

Unfortunately, while the mouth of the Columbia and the lower Columbia River deep draft channel has capacity for more vessels, the
channel depth as currently maintained is a constraint for many of the larger cargo ships in the transpacific fleet that require drafts greater
than 43 feet.

There is currently no way to accurately evaluate the Columbia’s waterway capacity to meet future demands. The current river data only
evaluates the load and there is not a study that has evaluated all of the waterways systems carrying capacities.

CONDITION
The condition of infrastructure on both the Columbia River and the Willamette River varies. In general, the Columbia River channel is in
good condition, due to adequate funding appropriations in recent years for channel maintenance dredging. However, many of the deep
draft channel turning basins (which are used for ships that exceed the 600-foot channel width to turn around) were not deepened to
43 feet and cannot accommodate the larger ships. Also, there are a limited number of deep draft 43-foot anchorages and stern anchor
buoys along the channel that allow ships to anchor outside the channel and not restrict vessel movement in the channel. Existing dredged
material placement sites are nearing capacity and new sites may be needed for the estimated 6 to 8 million cubic yards of materials to be
dredged each year. Overall the locks on the Columbia River are in good condition, primarily due to recent progress by the Corps to repair
and upgrade the aging locks.

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The 11.5 mile Portland Harbor on the Willamette River was not deepened to 43 feet, nor has there been any recent channel maintenance
dredging in the Harbor. This will continue to be a constraint for the Terminals in the Harbor until resolution of the Harbor Clean Up project.
In another challenge, the Willamette Falls lock is currently closed restricting vessel movement up the Willamette River beyond Oregon City.

Increased storm activity has severely damaged many of the coastal jetties and has taken a toll on their structural integrity. The U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been working to repair and restore the jetty structures to acceptable levels of reliability in recent years,
but more work still needs to be done. Additionally the pile dike structures are aging with many in poor condition and no recent funding to
address the necessary repairs. The coastal waterways are in adequate condition, but in recent years are often underfunded for the ongoing
maintenance and repairs needs.

PILE DIKE STRUCTURE (PHOTO COURTESY USACE PORTLAND DISTRICT WEBSITE)

FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


The funding for Oregon’s inland waterways maintenance and construction is primarily dependent on the annual federal budget treasury au-
thorizations to the USACE and two other federal funding sources, the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) and the Inland Waterways
Trust Fund (IWTF). The HMTF supports dredging and other waterside infrastructure maintenance for coastal harbors but does not fund
construction or major rehabilitation project like the jetties. HTMF collections have far exceeded actual funds appropriated for harbor main-
tenance and have been used for purposes unrelated to the account’s intended purposes. Meanwhile, the IWTF supports necessary repairs to
locks and dams along the nation’s inland waterways and is funded by a fuel barge tax, but does not fund operation and maintenance. In 2014,
Congress enacted a fuel barge tax increase, which has helped address the significant backlog of needed projects along inland waterways. How-
ever, IWTF and related appropriations are still insufficient to meet needs. As a result of these challenges, many of the Oregon’s waterways
maintenance and repair needs have not been adequately funded in recent years, creating a backlog of projects that need to be addressed.

Significant future funding is needed to address Oregon’s waterways and harbors backlog of projects. The Columbia River Channel Deepening
project spurred significant private investments in bulk handling terminals along the Columbia River, but did not address other necessary improve-
ments associated with deepening the channel. At some point, the deep draft channel may need deepening to accommodate larger vessels. Many
of the ports that are local sponsors for harbor and channel maintenance projects are financially constrained and will require funding support from
state or local property taxes to satisfy Federal funding match requirements. Business Oregon administers Oregon’s Marine Navigation Improve-
ment Fund that provides partial funding for federally authorized navigation improvement projects on channels and harbors on the Oregon coast
and along the Columbia River. The fund is administered by Oregon Business Development Department for the Oregon Infrastructure Finance
Authority and funding is subject to state budget authorizations. Recent funding authorizations are well below the anticipated needs. Also, Con-
nect Oregon, which has been a supplemental funding source for ports, did not allocate any funding for ports in the last authorization.

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OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


Ongoing maintenance, repair, and improvements to Oregon’s waterways and locks are primarily the responsibility of USACE. USACE re-
cently developed a comprehensive asset management program for its infrastructure, which is a positive step toward improving operations
and management in the inland waterway network.

Dredge material placement sites on the lower Co-


lumbia River are filling up and new sites are needed
as well as innovative dredging practices to address
the annual maintenance dredging volumes to keep
the channel navigable for the future. The US Army
Corps of Engineers and lower Columbia River Ports
are conducting a Lower Columbia Channel main-
tenance plan to ensure the Navigation Channel is
maintained and operational for another 20 years.
The plan will evaluate alternatives to reduce dredg-
ing and minimize environmental impacts.

Map Courtesy of USACE Columbia River Channel


Maintenance Plan

Vessel operations on Oregon’s waterways is a coordinated effort between the Corps, the Coast Guard, pilots, automated data information
systems, and vessel operators. Adequate USACE funding in recent years for ongoing channel maintenance dredging and continual hy-
drographic surveys help ensure vessels have the authorized water depth available and waterway operations have not be adversely affected.
Shallow anchorages and turning basins have created challenges, and if not addressed in the future, these challenges could adversely affect
vessel operations on the deep draft channel. Recent channel maintenance on coastal waterways and harbors has been adequate, but the
40-foot channel depths are becoming a constraint for larger ships to access deep draft Coastal Ports. Recent closures of the locks on the
Columbia for major repairs and improvements, while strategically planned to limit impacts, have significantly impacted vessel operations
on the Columbia inland waterway.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Oregon’s inland waterway conditions do not currently present a significant safety risk to the general public. Investments in training and
navigational technology by USACE, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Columbia River Steamship Operators’ Association (CRSOA), Columbia
River Pilots and Columbia River Bar Pilots, and the tug and towboat industry have increased the safety of vessel operations and movements.
However, degradation of coastal jetties is a potential safety risk for boaters and fishing industry. The Columbia North Jetty has receded well in
excess of 800 feet from its constructed length. This contributes to hazardous surf condition at the Columbia River entrance and to shoaling
in the Channel. Shoaling occurs when currents in the river moves material into the channel and decreases the water depth. Annual channel
maintenance dredging removes shoals that are created from sediments moving down the river. In addition to making passage into the river
safer for vessels, the jetties also prevent sand from adjacent beaches to migrate into the channel. Damage to jetties results in more mainte-

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nance dredging from the increased shoaling. From a resiliency prospective, if the channel and jetties are properly maintained the recovery
period from a disaster is much shorter as well.

RESILIENCE
Oregon’s waterways are affected by winter storms that can damage jetties and result in flooding. Flooding from storms and annual
high-water spring freshet on the Columbia River results in shoaling in the channels, that if not dredged, can lead to draft restrictions
for larger vessels. Ongoing channel maintenance dredging helps minimize the shoaling effects but is subject to federal funding autho-
rizations. Repairs to the jetties are also subject to federal funding. Recent funding has been sufficient to address these impacts so most
storms have minimal impact on the waterways ability to resume vessel traffic.

The Corps has two dredges with their home base in Oregon (Dredge EYASSONS and Dredge YAQUINA) that can be readily mobi-
lized for emergency dredging if necessary.

A much greater risk to Oregon’s waterway systems is a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake that would create significant damage to
the coastal waterways, jetties, and the 43 foot Columbia River channel. The channels will likely experience significant shoaling due to
lateral spreading within the channels, and failures of pile dike structures and jetties. The coastal waterways could also be impacted by
landslides and will be impacted by the resulting tsunami. Additionally, most of the coastal bridges that span the waterways are antic-
ipated to collapse. The repairs needed to resume all navigation operations could take several years. The upper Columbia River inland
waterway and associated locks are significantly inland from the Cascadia subduction zone off the Oregon coast and are not anticipated
to experience significant damage from a Cascadia earthquake.

INNOVATION
The USACE has implemented innovative materials and process as they become available, usually after a period of testing and evalua-
tion by the Engineering Research and Design Center. The USACE dredges have been upgraded with more efficient pumping capabil-
ities and state of the art controls.

There have been significant technology improvements related to data collection that have improved safety and efficient vessel move-
ment. Transview 32 Automated Identification System (AIS) data on vessel traffic, Water Management System CWMS hydrological
data forecasting, the Corps E-hydro system, and the LOADMAX numerical hydraulic analysis stage prediction tool optimizes available
navigational depths and allows river pilots to plan the optimum time to move loaded vessels on the river. In addition this technology
has improved environmental/ecological planning and analysis, including hazardous material spill response and river flow management
and flood warnings.

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INLAND
WATERWAYS

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Increase Connect Oregon and Oregon Marine Navigation Improvement funding
and allocations for Oregon Ports sponsoring USACE waterways projects in
Oregon.
•• Promote additional USACE funding to adequately address the deteriorating
jetties, pile dikes, and locks, increase Columbia River anchorages and turning
basin capacity, additional stern anchor buoys and implement coastal channels
deepening projects.
•• Promote and implement State and Federal grants to specifically address failing
infrastructure and/or seismic upgrades to critical lifeline facilities.
•• Protect the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund from being used for other,
non-port related purposes.
•• Ensure that full use of the Inland Waterways Trust Fund continues to be
appropriated, and increase the amount spent on operations and maintenance of
the inland waterways each year.
•• Protect the water flows provisions in Columbia River Treaty so navigation on the
Columbia is not adversely impacted.
•• Advocate and implement cleanup of the Willamette River in a timely and cost
effective manner.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 52
INLAND
WATERWAYS

SOURCES
US Army Corps of Engineers
Portland District Navigation Facts, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/
Willamette Falls Locks, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/willamette/locks/
Columbia River, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/columbia/
Oregon Coast Navigation Projects, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Locations/Oregon-Coast/
Northwest District Surveys, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Surveys/
Northwest District Vessels, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Vessels/
Northwest District Navigation Pile Dikes, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/
Navigation/Pile-dikes/
Northwest District Navigation Channels and Harbors, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/
Missions/Navigation/Channels/
Mouth of the Columbia River Jetty System Major Rehabilitation Project, www.nwp.
usace.army.mil/jetties/
Corps Water Management System (CWMW), www.hec.usace.army.mil/cwms/cwms.
aspx, www.hec.usace.army.mil/FactSheets/CWMS/HEC_FactSheet_CWMS.pdf
Coos Bay’s Proposed Channel Modification, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/coast/coos-bay/
channel-modification/
Mouth of the Columbia River, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Locations/Oregon-Coast/
Mouth-of-the-Columbia/
Portland District, Lower Columbia River Channel Maintenance Plan, www.nwp.usace.
army.mil/lcrchannelmaintenance/
Northwest District, Channels, www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Channels/
www.nwp.usace.army.mil/Missions/Navigation/Channels/Vancouver-to-The-Dalles/
The US Waterway System, 2016 Transportation Facts & Information, www.iwr.usace.
army.mil/About/Technical-Centers/WCSC-Waterborne-Commerce-Statistics-Center/
USACE AIS Transmit Technical Support Summary Report, September 2014, apps.dtic.
mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a623648.pdf

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 53
INLAND
WATERWAYS

SOURCES (CONT.)
Waterway Performance Monitoring via Automatic Identification System (AIS) Data
apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/1028244.pdf
Pacific Northwest Waterways Association
www.pnwa.net/PNWA - Fact Sheets and Backgrounders
Oregon Public Ports Association
www.oregonports.com
Business Oregon
http://www.orinfrastructure.org/Infrastructure-Programs/MNIF/
Oregon Marine Navigation Improvement Fund
www.oregonlaws.org/ors/777.267
Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America
Waterways Work for Oregon Fact Sheet, www.uschamber.com/sites/default/files/
legacy/lra/docs/Oregon_USChamb_Waterway_StateFactSheet_071513.pdf
Columbia River Steamship Operators’ Association
2019 Legislative Agenda, www.crsoa.net/legislative.html
Columbia River Pilots
www.colrip.com
www.colrip.com/safety/vtis/
Columbia River Ports Case Study
Estimating Economic Benefits from NOAA PORTS® Information: A Case Study of the
Columbia River Report prepared for the Port of Portland by Dr. Hauke Kite-Powell of
the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Marine Policy Center. June 2010
Lower Columbia Region Harbor Safety Committee Anchorage Guidelines 2017 Edition
Surveys
Conducted an on-line survey via Survey Monkey.
Interviews
Conducted interviews and attended Oregon Public Ports Association meeting,

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 54
LEVEES
VIEW OF THE WILLAMETTE RIVER FLOODING IN PORTLAND OREGON
© JKRAFT5

LEVEES
GRADE: D+

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Based on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) National Levee Database (NLD), over 100,000 Ore-
gonians live or work behind levees. However, this estimate only includes the levees in the NLD as Oregon does
not have a complete inventory of its levees – especially the ones outside USACE’s portfolio. While many levees
were constructed or improved using federal funding, local communities are responsible for ongoing operation
and maintenance (O&M) costs associated with levees. Oregon provides limited funding assistance to levee
owners, but many communities have been unable to access this assistance or find it insufficient to cover the
cost of improvements required for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certification. Of levees
inspected by the USACE, approximately 11 percent (124 miles) of Oregon levees are rated “Minimally Accept-
able.” About 30 percent (113 miles) are rated “Unacceptable.” The remaining levees are of unknown condition.
Currently only 14 of Oregon’s 236 levees are certified by FEMA.

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FIGURE 1: VANPORT FLOOD IN 1948 (MCDD)

BACKGROUND
The USACE’s National Levee Database (NLD) catalogs many of Oregon’s levees, but generally consists of levees known by USACE
through prior involvement and only includes a portion of levees outside USACE’s portfolio. The NLD should not be viewed as a
comprehensive inventory of Oregon’s levees, but it represents the best available data at this time. Following Congress’ passage of the
Flood Control Act of 1950, the USACE improved some of the levee systems around Oregon. Many were then turned over to local
jurisdictions to manage ongoing O&M activities, which continues to this day.

According to the NLD, there are 236 levee structures in Oregon extending over 360 miles in 27 of Oregon’s 36 counties. Nearly
100,000 Oregonians live and work in approximately 22,000 buildings behind levees. These structures represent about $12.7 billion in
assessed property value, $7.3 billion of which is located behind the Multnomah County Drainage District (MCDD) levee serving the
Portland International Airport and 59,000 jobs.

A significant amount of critical infrastructure is located behind levees, including emergency medical and public health facilities, water
and wastewater treatment plants, law enforcement services, chemical storage, airports, and schools (Figure 2).

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CONDITION & CAPACITY


The condition of Oregon’s levees varies greatly throughout the state, from robust, well-maintained levees to failed levees that have
not been repaired. USACE administers a formal inspection program for levees improved by USACE or in its portfolio. Approximately
11 percent (124 miles) of Oregon levees in the NLD are rated “Minimally Acceptable” and about 30 percent (113 miles) are rated
“Unacceptable.” None of Oregon’s levees inspected by USACE exceeds the “Minimally Acceptable” rating. The remaining levees are
of unknown condition.

Levees operated and maintained consistent with USACE requirements can be eligible for financial assistance after a flooding event
through USACE’s Rehabilitation & Inspection Program (RIP). Assistance, however, is limited to repairing the levee to the same
condition it was in prior to the flood event and does not cover O&M items. In contrast, unless a non-federal levee system has taken
steps to be eligible in the RIP, USACE does not inspect them, and these systems are ineligible for federal assistance. Approximately
50,000 people are estimated to live or work behind these uninspected levees, occupying buildings and property with a combined value
of about $6 billion.

FIGURE 2: CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE BEHIND OREGON’S LEVEES

Source: Homeland Security Infrastructure Program Data 2015

Many Oregon communities are interested in pursuing FEMA certification of their levees, a requirement to qualify for lower flood
insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program. Without certification, flood insurance may be cost prohibitive with lending
institutions reluctant to finance real estate transactions. Certification typically requires geotechnical investigations, which can be cost
prohibitive for many communities. Currently, only 14 of Oregon’s levees are FEMA certified.

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OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


The level of O&M activities performed on local levees varies greatly by community, largely depending on funding and local ability to
perform the activities.

Scrutiny on the readiness of Oregon’s levees has increased since Hurricane Katrina and many levee communities have been required to
increase O&M efforts, resulting in increased cost. This added cost has been difficult for some communities to afford. Oregon voters ap-
proved Measures 5 (1990) and 50 (1996) establishing limits on Oregon’s property taxes. These measures have made it difficult for some
communities to invest in levees systems to pursue FEMA certification, respond to changing regulations and increase O&M efforts.

Additionally, land use behind the levees and environmental considerations have changed day-to-day operations and required local
sponsors to balance flood risk and environmental concerns. For example, USACE levee management practices require vegetation to
be mowed regularly and trees be removed from levees. Due to the proximity to rivers; however, levee vegetation is often considered
riparian and critical for threatened and endangered species. As a result, many levee districts face conflicting requirements with regard
to maintaining levees to USACE standards.

For levees outside the USACE portfolio, O&M activities are not tracked, and a 2018 survey of levee operators indicated that many
non-federal levees are not maintained.

FIGURE 3. REEDSPORT FLOODWALL


FUNDING & FUTURE NEED
Lack of funding for levees continues to prevent communi-
ties from making repairs, which limits their ability to obtain
FEMA certification. According to the 2018 ASCE survey,
communities need resource assistance and believe the state
and federal governments should do more to help.

In 2015, the state enacted the Business Oregon’s Infrastruc-


ture Finance Authority loan program to help communities
with resource challenges related to FEMA accreditation.
Some communities, however, do not qualify for the program
because they cannot afford to repay the loan, even at the
state’s modest interest rates. The program also offers grants,
but they are capped at $50,000 per biennium. Levee spon-
sors have indicated this amount is generally insufficient for
meaningful improvements.

No other resources exist for levees at the state level, and the
state’s official role in levee safety is unclear. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries and Department of Land
Conservation and Development have tried to gather information on levees outside the federal portfolio, but their efforts have been
limited to desktop studies without field verification. Additionally, the Oregon Water Resource Department can conduct general risk
assessments if funded by a local sponsor, but they cannot assist in designing repairs, and local communities bear all construction costs.

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Oregon’s approach is different from California and Washington, which have created robust technical and financial levee assistance
programs. The Washington legislature has funded comprehensive planning and flood control maintenance and improvement projects
through the Flood Control Assistance Account Program for over 30 years. Washington State also administers a partnership of local,
state, federal, and private organizations that focuses on coordinating investment for multi-benefit projects that improve flood safety
for communities and benefit the ecosystem. The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services helps local communities identify
and apply for funding. California’s Local Levee Assistance Program helps local agencies obtain geotechnical information required for
FEMA accreditation and awards funding to evaluate levees and design and construct repairs. California voters have also approved large
bond measures to improve aging flood control infrastructure.

PUBLIC SAFETY, RESILIENCE & INNOVATION


Oregon has a history of devastating floods, including the 1894 and 1948 floods on the Columbia River and the 1964 and 1996 floods on
the Willamette River. Fortunately, Oregon has not experienced significant flooding on these rivers since 1996. This means, however, that
many of Oregon’s levees have not been tested in more than 20 years. Communities may not be aware of this, increasing public safety risk.

Following the Flood Control Act of 1950, USACE was authorized to construct and improve Oregon levees in partnership with willing
communities. Many levees in USACE’s portfolio were initially designed and constructed to withstand a minimum 200-year-flood
event. Today, due to the high costs of obtaining levee certification and accreditation, some communities are opting to certify to the
minimum FEMA standard 100-year flood elevation. While this approach may be less costly, such actions can reduce overall levee
efficacy, leaving communities at potentially higher risk than originally intended.

If climate change occurs as some models predict, the Pacific Northwest is anticipated to have wetter winters and drier summers. These
models indicate increased flood pressures on levees, increasing risk.

Additionally, levees are not generally designed to withstand seismic events under the justification that a major flood and earthquake
would not be coincident. If the area experienced a large seismic event, levee instability, including sloughing and settlement, could be
expected, likely requiring repairs prior to the next flood event.

FIGURE 4: FLOOD FIGHTING 1996 FLOOD (MCDD)

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RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• GET INVOLVED – The State of Oregon should establish a levee safety program
that works directly with levee communities and federal partners, including
FEMA and USACE. Of primary importance is identifying the conditions and risk
associated with levee systems outside the federal portfolio.
•• INVEST – Levee communities are interested in improving their infrastructure,
but are often limited to O&M and cannot raise the capital for certification and
resiliency planning. Investment increases from state and regional government’s
leveed communities to facilitate levee safety to levee communities would raise the
grade.
•• GET PREPARED – Many of Oregon levees have not been tested in over 20 years.
Some individuals may not be aware they live or work behind a levee and need to be
reminded of the risk. The state and local communities should develop flood risk
awareness programs, specifically targeting leveed communities.
•• GET ORGANIZED – The State could play a role in providing levee communities
with a venue to communicate their needs as part of a larger, levee safety
community.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 60
LEVEES

SOURCES
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
2018a National Levee Database (NLD), USACE, https://levees.sec.usace.army.mil/#/,
2018.
2018b Levee Portfolio Report, A Summary of Risks and Benefits Associated with
the USACE Levee Portfolio, USACE, Levee Safety Program, March 2018.
2019 Assessment of Columbia and Willamette River Flood Stage on the Columbia
Corridor Levee System at Portland, Oregon in a Future Climate, Scientific
Investigations Report 2018 – 5161, USACE in Conjunction with USGS

American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE)


2018 Oregon Levee Survey, https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-
6VZS7K7HL/browse/, 2018.

Applegate CA
2018 Special Paper 50, Flood Risk Assessment for the Columbia Corridor
Drainage Districts in Multnomah County, OR, Oregon Department of
Geology and Mineral Industries (DOGAMI).

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 61
PORTS

THE LOWER WILLAMETTE RIVER AS IT TIES INTO THE COLUMBIA RIVER.


PORTS
GRADE: C-

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oregon’s system of 23 public ports are a critical part of the state’s multimodal freight transportation system. Ports
facilitate the movement of timber, agricultural, and manufacturing products to regional and international markets.
Each port faces different issues due to differences in waterway conditions, surrounding transportation infrastruc-
ture, and goods shipped. The condition of port infrastructure varies from good to poor and ongoing maintenance
continues to be a challenge. However, in most cases, port infrastructure is nearing the end of design life and current
revenue sources are inadequate to properly maintain or upgrade facilities. Funding to upgrade and/or modernize
facilities are dependent on state or federal grants, and those opportunities have declined in recent years. The ports
also rely on the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) to pay for dredging and harbor maintenance projects
to maintain access to port facilities. Unfortunately, Congress has redirected revenue from the HMTF to offset
unrelated portions of the federal budget. As a result, available USACE funding has been inadequate to address the
dredging needs of many harbors.

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OREGON PORT DISTRICTS

May 2014, Economic Benefits of Oregon Public Ports, study by FCS Group

BACKGROUND
The 23 Oregon public ports are comprised of 14 coastal ports and nine that are located on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. In addition to the
private terminals, the public ports serve as state, national, and international transportation gateways and provide recreational, commercial, and
economic services to residents and businesses in Oregon. Most public ports own industrial parks and commercial property, and some also operate
the local airports. They are a key component in sustaining Oregon’s economy and quality of life, and support thousands of family wage jobs.

Oregon’s ports and waterways contribute $3.6 billion to Oregon’s economy. One out of six Oregon jobs is directly or indirectly tied to cargo,
recreation, industrial, commercial or other activities at Oregon’s ports. Oregon is one of the most trade dependent states in the US, ranks 10th
highest nationwide when it comes to the value of exports as a share of state GDP. Additionally, the economic impact is larger than this as many
other states’ products ship through Oregon ports on their way to destinations along the Pacific Rim.

All of Oregon’s ports were incorporated as special districts that are regulated under Oregon Revised Statues. With the exception of the Port of
Portland and the Port of Coos Bay (whose boards are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Oregon Senate) ports are run by locally
elected boards of commissioners.

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PORT OF NEWPORT

The 14 coastal ports are critical to the eco-


nomic health of coastal port communities.
A 2014 State of Oregon study shows that
the Oregon coastal ports contribute 15,759
direct/indirect jobs and $904 million to the
state GDP. NOAA’s 2015 Fisheries of the
U.S. report ranked the State of Oregon sev-
enth in the nation for 2015 domestic fish
landings, with 195 million pounds, valued at
$115.7 million.

Photo Courtesy of Oregon Public Ports


Association

PORT OF PORTLAND TERMINAL 5

The nine Oregon public ports on the Colum-


bia and Willamette are part of the Columbia
Snake River system. Three are deep draft (43
feet deep) ports along the Columbia and Wil-
lamette rivers and six are located along the 14
feet deep inland navigation channel above the
Columbia River dams. Ports along the upper
Columbia River play an important role in serv-
ing rural areas as a point of collection and dis-
tribution for commodities (such as grain, corn,
and petroleum products) as well as food prod-
ucts, which then utilize rail or barge to send
goods to the deep draft ports for export. The
deep draft ports also serve as gateways for
foreign bound exports for seafood/wood
products (from coastal areas), soda ash (from
Wyoming) and potash (from Saskatchewan).
The Port of Portland also serves as gateway
for automobile imports and exports.

Photo Courtesy of Port of Portland

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CAPACITY
In general, most of Oregon’s port facilities can accommodate current and future anticipated needs related to the movement of cargo. After the
Columbia River channel deepening to 43 feet in 2010, there was significant investment by the grain and bulk terminal operators to modernize
and increase their storage capacity on the Columbia and Willamette Rivers. There also was private investment to increase the growing auto export
business in Portland.

On the upper Columbia River, some ports have expanded their facilities to accommodate developing freight movement. Most of the coastal
ports and some of the Columbia River ports own marinas that support commercial fishing industry and recreational boating. Most are adequate
for current needs.

The recent loss of regular ocean container ships calling the Port of Portland has created a challenge for the region’s exporters that relied on lower
shipping costs associated with service from Terminal 6. The Port is pursuing new container service and developing a rail transloading facility for
containers transported by barges from the upper Columbia and local containers to be transported more economically to Seattle or Tacoma.

CONDITION
Although most of the cargo terminals are in good condition, conditions of docks varied widely. Generally, facilities at larger ports are in better con-
dition than facilities at smaller ports. The coastal ports, according to a 2018 ASCE survey, generally rate their facilities conditions as fair to poor.

Some ports have improved and modernized their facilities through federal and state grants and passage of local bond measures. How-
ever, for the majority of ports in the state, the ability to maintain and/or replace outdated facilities is an ongoing challenge and the
condition of many facilities is expected to continue to deteriorate. Most structures are 30 years or older and many are nearing or have
exceeded the end of useful life. Attention to the condition of the docks, in-water pilings, and mooring structures requires ongoing
attention. Escalating costs and regulatory processes to maintain berths and slips is also a challenge.

FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


All Oregon ports receive property taxes from residents and businesses within the port districts. However, as a percentage of total revenue, these
taxes are significantly less compared to what many Washington ports receive from their local communities. Revenue from leases, dockage and
other fees make up the rest of the revenue that the ports collect. In general, revenue does not cover the costs to adequately maintain or modern-
ize port cargo facilities. Most port districts rely on grants from federal and state programs to fund modernization or expansion of their facilities.
Although most ports have received some of these competitive awards, the available funding from federal and state investment programs are
insufficient to meet all the anticipated needs. Often, ports have to compete for the limited grant opportunities. Smaller ports are particularly
challenged to successfully compete for limited grant opportunities due to requirements for matching funds from the local level.

Some ports, such as the Port of Alsea, have been able to pass local bond measures to make improvements. However local measures are often
competing with other local infrastructure measures and find it difficult to gain support. Ports that own marinas also compete for grants offered
by the Oregon State Marine Board.

Following statutory changes enacted by the State Legislature in 2007, the Oregon Business Development Commission adopted a strategic busi-
ness plan for Oregon’s statewide Port system, known as Ports 2010. This plan requires the Ports to develop and maintain strategic business plans
as a basis for access to department funding. In addition the Ports entered into Intergovernmental Agreements with Oregon Business Develop-
ment Department (OBDD) that defines how the Ports and OBDD will implement the adopted business plans. Although Ports 2010 has provid-
ed a consistent approach to determining the Ports funding needs, there has been little funding authorized to help the Ports implement their plans.

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Connect Oregon was created in 2005 as a $100 million lottery-bond-based initiative to invest in air, rail, marine, and transit infra-
structure. Ensuing projects focused on connections between the highway system and other modes of transportation. The projects
were distributed statewide and selected by the Oregon Transportation Commission (OTC) with the use of criteria specified in statute
along with stakeholder and regional transportation advisory committee consultation. An additional requirement was that 15 percent of
the proceeds were to be spent in each of ODOT’s five regions. Historically, ports competed for grants and received 16 percent of the
total allocation. They’ve also benefited from the funding for rail projects, as some rail projects improve access to rail at port facilities.
Unfortunately, Connect Oregon funding authorizations have decreased in recent years. The most recent $60 million authorization
from Connect Oregon VII in 2017 offered no funding opportunities for ports.

CONNECT OREGON MODAL ALLOCATION SUMMARY


I, II, III, IV, V & VI (2005 – 2017)

Mode Award % of Leveraged % of Total


Amount Total Awarded (Project Cost) Leveraged

Aviation $97,929,433 23% $353,493,724 58%

Bike/Ped $13,981,618 3% $12,877,790 2%

Marine/Ports $66,507,533 16% $47,857,702 8%

Rail $173,732,015 41% $105,416,589 17%

Transit $49,694,000 12% $75,116,627 12%

Multimodal $15,546,400 4% $10,826,800 2%

Total $419,859,759 100% $605,589,232 100%

Table from Connect Oregon Website

The Clean Up of the Lower Willamette superfund site also presents a financial challenge for the Port of Portland and terminals located along the
Portland Harbor. Although allocation of the cleanup costs has yet to be determined, early cost estimates are significant and could have detrimen-
tal effects on those entities ability to fund ongoing maintenance and operations.

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OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


In general, most port cargo facilities are in good enough condition that day-to-day operations are not adversely impacted. Maintenance, on the
other hand, continues to be a challenge due to the age of the most facilities. Many of the facilities have exceeded their design life and require on-
going repairs. Funding constraints often prohibit proper replacement, resulting in minimal repairs, referred to as “band aid” repairs.

Berth and slip maintenance is of particular concern. Due to ever changing weather conditions and subsequent impacts to the waterways, berth
maintenance costs are difficult to predict and are further complicated by the regulatory processes associated with in water work. Often, regulatory
requirements have cost and schedule implications that are made more difficult by escalating construction costs.

PUBLIC SAFETY
Most port cargo handling operations are located within an industrial area and away from high traffic or even visible areas, which allows operations to
be conducted without any potential harm to the general public. However, old and outdated facilities can present a safety risk to tenants, contrac-
tors and operators that use port facilities. Ports typically have their operators and tenants apply any appropriate safety protocols and procedures
that are necessary for their industry. Public marinas are subject to Oregon State Marine Board oversight which helps insure public safety is not
adversely jeopardized.

RESILIENCE
Oregon’s coastal ports are subject to the unique climate patterns of the Pacific ocean that can significantly elevate sea levels for several months as
well as generate damaging high wave and storm surges and flooding of coastal rivers. Sea level rise in the coming decades is anticipated to create
more flooding at the coastal ports, particularly during El Niño weather events that can raise coastal sea levels for several months. Although seismic
strains along the Cascadia subduction zone has raised the Oregon coast evaluation over time, a Cascadia event earthquake could cause parts of the
coast to immediately drop 3 to 7 feet and relative sea level to suddenly rise, compounded by the resulting Tsunami. Inland ports are subject to less
severe storms than the coast, but flooding events can affect the Columbia river ports, the most recent example being the 1996 flood. Most of the
port cargo facilities were not designed to withstand current earthquake standards. A Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake will have significant
impacts to the coastal ports and detrimental impacts to the lower Columbia River ports. With the exception of a partial seismic upgrade to Terminal
6 at the Port of Portland, no seismic upgrades have been implemented.

INNOVATION
Ports that have constructed new facilities are being engineered with the innovative techniques, materials, and technologies that are within project
budgets. Some ports have implemented innovative stormwater treatment features, such as the use of pervious pavements at auto storage yards
in lieu of conventional storm water collection methods. New technology for gate security and for processing and management of containers at
Terminal 6 were implemented in recent years. However, funding constraints have limited innovation at many port facilities.

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PORTS

RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Increase Connect Oregon and Oregon Marine Navigation Improvement Fund and
allocations for ports as envisioned by the “Ports 2010” strategic business plan.
•• Identify additional funding opportunities for capital investment within ports and find
ways to fund local matches for large federal grant programs.
•• Promote and implement state and federal grants to specifically address failing
infrastructure and/or seismic upgrades to critical lifeline facilities.
•• Streamline land use and regulatory processes so there is a consistent approach that
ports can plan for.
•• Protect the federal Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund by ensuring the fund receives full
use of revenues and that they are being used for their intended purpose.
•• Prevent and address dredging backlogs and support USACE structural repairs.
•• Promote and implement planning for ports and communities to address sea level
rise and advocate for State and Federal grants to address necessary infrastructure
upgrades.

SOURCES
Pacific Northwest Waterways Association
www.pnwa.net/PNWA - Fact Sheets and Backgrounders
Oregon Public Ports Association
www.oregonports.com
Ports 2010
Ports 2010, A New Strategic Business Plan of Oregon’s Statewide Port System, by
Parsons Brinkerhoff
Oregon Ports 2012
September 2012 Background Brief – Legislative Committee Services, State of Oregon

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 68
PORTS

Oregon Department of Transportation


Connect Oregon Program, www.oregon.gov/odot/programs/pages/connectoregon.aspx
https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Programs/TDD%20Documents/ConnectOregon-
Modal-Allocation-Summary.pdf
Oregon Ports Overview
January 2015Presentation prepared for Oregon Transportation Visioning Panel,
by Oregon Department of Transportation and Business Oregon
Oregon Ports Economic Study
May 2014, Economic Benefits of Oregon Public Ports, by FCS Group for Business
Oregon Infrastructure Finance Authority
Project Consultants: FCS GROUP, BergerABAM, BST Associates, Northwest
Economic Research Center
State of Oregon
Oregon Economic and Revenue Forecast March 2019, Department of
Administrative Services , Office of Economic Analysis
Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America
Waterways Work for Oregon Fact Sheet, https://www.uschamber.com/sites/default/
files/legacy/lra/docs/Oregon_USChamb_Waterway_StateFactSheet_071513.pdf
Sea-Level Rise for the Coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington
http://dels.nas.edu/resources/static-assets/materials-based-on-reports/reports-in-
brief/sea-level-rise-brief-final.pdf
https://www.nap.edu/read/13389/chapter/6
https://blog.ucsusa.org/kristy-dahl/sea-level-rise-will-make-oregons-existing-
flooding-problems-worse
Surveys
Conducted two surveys, one questionnaire and the other an on-line survey via
Survey Monkey.
Interviews
Conducted interviews and attended Oregon Public Ports Association meeting,

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 69
RAIL

LANDSCAPE IN THE COLUMBIA RIVER GORGE WITH A TRAIN PASSING BY


NEAR PORTLAND OREGON
© JKRAFT5
RAIL
GRADE: C

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oregon has 2,782 route miles of track, over half of which is operated by Union Pacific Railroad Co. (UP) and
BNSF Railway Co. (BNSF). The remainder is operated by a mix of regional, local, and switching and terminal
railroads. The state’s two longest short line railroads today are the Portland & Western (PNWR) and the Central
Oregon & Pacific (CORP). Oregon rail freight tonnage in 2017 was 64.8 million tons, up from 54.4 million tons
in 2012. In 2015, railroads employed 2,026 Oregonians and those employees earned $214.8 million in wages
and benefits that year. Principal commodities carried by trains are wood and paper products, farm-related prod-
ucts, and chemicals (largely soda ash or potash). Oregon is currently served with passenger train service by the
daily Amtrak Coast Starlight that runs between Seattle and Los Angeles, and by Amtrak’s daily Empire Builder
between Portland and Chicago. Passenger rail operates on trackage owned by UP and BNSF.

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CONDITION & CAPACITY


Freight System
Class I Railroads

The two Class I railroads in Oregon, Union Pacific (UP) and BNSF, together operate 51 percent of all active rail mileage in the state.
They handle the vast majority of freight traffic, including virtually all interstate shipments, and all Amtrak passenger service is operated
over these lines.

TABLE 1: CLASS I RAILROAD OPERATING CHARACTERISTICS IN OREGON

NAME EMPLOYEES PAYROLL MILES ORIGINATING TERMINATING


(MILLIONS OF OPERATED CARLOADS CARLOADS
DOLLARS)

UP 1,511 $137 1,073 215,732 319,512

BNSF 332 $25 336 96,103 159,274

Source: UP statistics from Union Pacific in Oregon fact sheet for 2017; BNSF statistics from BNSF Railway in Oregon fact sheet, 2017.

Union Pacific Railroad

Omaha-based Union Pacific Railroad is the largest rail operator in Oregon by mileage and traffic volume. In 2017, the firm operated
trains over 1,073 miles of track in Oregon, with a staff of 1,511 and a $137 million payroll. UP’s Oregon network consists of two primary
corridors: an east-west transcontinental route, and a north-south route linking California with the Pacific Northwest.

UP primarily operates on single track. The company relies on sidings, which are parallel sections of track where trains pull off to allow
other trains to pass in the same or opposite direction to facilitate bi-directional movements. The railroad’s top inbound commodities
include mixed freight handled in containers and trailers, recyclables/waste, soda ash, fertilizers, and assembled automobiles. Top
outbound commodities were dominated by mixed freight handled in intermodal service, lumber and building materials, cement and
miscellaneous minerals, paper, and frozen/refrigerated foodstuff.

BNSF Railway

BNSF is the second largest operator in Oregon, and relies on 230 miles of owned track and 106 miles of trackage rights. In 2017,
BNSF employed 332 people in Oregon, with a payroll of $25 million. In addition to extensive operations in the Portland region,
approximately 313 miles of BNSF trackway comprise a north-south corridor that forms part of BNSF’s through route along the West
Coast, between California’s Central Valley and the Pacific Northwest. Often referred to as the Inside Gateway, the Oregon portion is
comprised of the segment beginning at the state line near Wishram, WA on the Columbia River and extending through Bend, Chemult
and Klamath Falls to Malin on Oregon’s southern border with California. Although beyond Oregon’s borders, the Washington portion
of BNSF’s mainline is critical to service in Oregon. It is comprised of trackage along the north bank of the Columbia River, between
Pasco, Wallula, Wishram and Vancouver, Washington.

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Top inbound commodities consisted of mixed freight moving in intermodal service, agriculture products and industrial products. Top
outbound commodities were dominated by mixed freight and forest and industrial products. Almost all of BNSF’s network in Oregon
consists of single track mainline.

Non-Class I Railroads
While the Class I mainline railroads provide the primary arteries for the movement of goods throughout the state, Oregon’s Class III
railroads provide important collector/distributor services for the larger railroads and local rail services for rural shippers.

Class III railroads in Oregon primarily operate former Class I branch lines that were sold or leased after deregulation of the industry
began in the 1980s. These small railroads have been instrumental in preserving rail service to rural sectors of Oregon hosting a variety
of agricultural, forestry, mining and manufacturing enterprises. Oregon has no Class II carriers.

TABLE 2: OREGON 2019 TOTALS

MILES OPERATED

NUMBER OF FREIGHT EXCLUDING INCLUDING TRACKAGE


RAILROADS TRACKAGE RIGHTS RIGHTS

Class 1 2 1,111 1,421

Regional 2 694 809

Local 15 461 468

Switching & Terminal 6 20 24

Tourist & Other 4 59

Total 29 2,345 2,722

Passenger System

Oregon is currently served with passenger train service by the daily Amtrak Coast Starlight that runs between Seattle and Los Angeles,
and by Amtrak’s daily Empire Builder between Portland and Chicago. The states of Oregon and Washington cooperate to sponsor a
regional passenger train service between Eugene and Vancouver, B.C., branded as Amtrak Cascades.

In calendar year 2017, total combined ridership on the Oregon-funded Amtrak Cascades trains and the Portland-Eugene segment of
the Coast Starlight was 183,632 passengers. Another 83,164 persons traveled the Portland-Eugene corridor in 2017 aboard Amtrak
Thruway ODOT POINT buses. From 1996 to 2012, the Oregon passenger rail system and its allied bus network showed sustained
annual ridership growth with the exception of 2009, a year hard-hit by the recession. Ridership peaked in 2013 and has fluctuated at
lower numbers since then.

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Condition

The condition of mainline track in Oregon is generally good, but the number of trains that can be safely and efficiently carried depends
on several factors, such as the presence and complexity of a signal system and the length of, and intervals between, sidings. These
additional lengths of track are critical because the majority of Oregon’s mainlines are single-track.

Until the onset of the economic recession in 2008, traffic on short lines had grown substantially, as operators improved service,
upgraded track and equipment, and attracted new customers. However, the condition of some segments of Oregon’s short line network
are still affected by a legacy of deferred maintenance and will not allow freight speeds of 25 miles per hour, the state’s minimum goal
for secondary line operation.

Additionally, a number of bridges and tunnels on the state’s short line system are aging. Most of Oregon’s short line bridges are timber
trestles built between 1930 and 1950. Of the 24 tunnels on the short line system, all but one were dug between 1883 and 1916, and
some retain significant portions of their original timber rib lining.

Most Oregon businesses that ship by rail, whether on a major railroad or short line, have access to only one of the state’s two interstate
railroads. This lack of competition is of concern to shippers and the short lines.

O&M, FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


Freight System
Except for three of five publicly owned short lines, Oregon’s railroads are run by private companies that pay federal, state, and local
income taxes, as well as property taxes assessed on their individual rights-of-way, buildings, and locomotives. All railroads, whether
public or private, maintain their own equipment, track, and rights-of-way. They pay annual fees based on gross revenue for state track
and equipment safety inspections and for facilitating the regulation of public rail crossings. Both federal and state highway funds
support rail crossing improvements, but very little federal money has been allocated to the states for other track improvements.

Key Needs for Freight


Class I Needs

Today’s Class I rail network in Oregon is arguably in the best condition since the dawn of the highway era. Both BNSF and UP have
very robust investment programs to maintain and improve their infrastructure throughout the state. All Class I trackage in Oregon
is capable of carrying the standard 286,000- (286K) pound freight rail cars, and all but 54.4 miles of BNSF’s Oregon Trunk and 87
miles of its Gateway Subdivision are signalized with Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). However, tunnel clearances preclude moving
double-stack containers over the Oregon Trunk and Gateway Subdivisions.

Improvements needed for increasing capacity and eliminating bottlenecks on the mainline network in Oregon:

•• Siding and mainline track upgrades.


•• Signal system upgrades, and elimination of “dark territory” segments on BNSF’s Inside Gateway line.
•• Other upgrades to reduce bottlenecks and increasing speed.
•• Increasing vertical clearances in tunnels on the Inside Gateway to permit passage of double-stack containers.
In general, responsibility for adapting to increasing freight traffic falls on the railroads themselves.

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Class III Railroad Needs

The major operational issues that traditionally face railroads include speed restrictions, weight restrictions, and vertical clearance
restrictions often caused by bridges and tunnels. These issues are most distressing for Class III railroads in Oregon, and often their
inability to accommodate heavier and/or larger equipment affects their financial performance, limits their growth and sometimes
threaten their existence. For example, over 250 miles of Class III rail mileage cannot accommodate 286K loads, placing the shippers on
those lines at an economic disadvantage due to the fact that they are unable to fully benefit from the efficiencies of rail.

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) estimates the cost of upgrading deficient lines in the state to accommodate
286K-pound cars to be $125 to $150 million.

Connect Oregon was created in 2005 as a $100 million lottery-bond-based initiative to invest in air, rail, marine, and transit
infrastructure. House Bill 2017 (2017) made significant revisions to the Connect Oregon program and funded four named rail projects,
for a total of $60 million:

•• a Mid-Willamette Valley intermodal rail facility ($25 million);


•• a Treasure Valley intermodal rail facility ($26 million);
•• a rail extension at the Port of Morrow ($6.55 million); and
•• building a new passing siding between Salem and Portland ($2.6 million).

Rail Funding Task Force


Oregon’s lack of dedicated, sustainable funding for rail investments is one of the primary challenges to maintaining a viable rail system
for both passengers and freight in Oregon.

Oregon has historically lacked a dedicated revenue stream available to provide the required match for federal funds to improve passenger
rail service or to maintain or operate infrastructure or support rail grade crossing projects.

In 2011, ODOT convened a Rail Funding Task Force made up of 14 diverse representatives of Oregon industries, passenger rail
advocates, local governments, and community leaders to identify a long-term sustainable funding source for passenger and freight
rail in Oregon. The funding recommendations would generate an estimated $75 - $80 million annually for rail. To date, none of these
funding strategies have been pursued.

Passenger System
AMTRAK, PRIIA, AND FUTURE FUNDING

Passenger rail funding discussions in Congress are inevitably tied to the discussion of Amtrak’s future. In 2002, Amtrak was on the brink of
closing lines. Missing Congressional deadlines to be operationally self-sufficient, Amtrak reorganized and in 2011, overhauled its accounting
processes. Except for the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak’s ticket revenue does not cover operating costs. The company’s cross-country trains
show the highest losses. Affected communities and states are urging Congress to more fully support the system, as it provides an alternative
to automobile and air travel, particularly for rural communities. Under the provisions of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement
Act (PRIIA) of 2008, Amtrak’s Cascades service, beginning in October 2013, required significantly greater financial operating support
from Oregon and Washington as a state-supported service. Long distance service (Coast Starlight and Empire Builder) will continue to
require federal support to the extent that it doesn’t ‘break even’ from an operating perspective. All of Amtrak’s operations are on freight
railroad trackage and the responsibility for track maintenance and infrastructure capital funding lies with the freight railroads. Installation
of federally required Positive Train Control (PTC) for both UP and BNSF was completed in 2018 and is in daily operation in Oregon.

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PUBLIC SAFETY, RESILIENCE & INNOVATION


The federal government is primarily responsible for regulation of railroad safety. A brief review by the Office of Legislative Counsel found
that state and local governments are preempted from regulating railroads. There is a narrow exception for laws of general applicability
that are intended to protect public health and safety, such as fire and building codes. While there are several federal agencies and boards
that have a regulatory role, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT),
has primary responsibility for railroad operational safety. The FRA has delegated some of its authority to ODOT’s Rail and Public
Transit Division.

ODOT’s Rail Safety Unit has responded to the growth in crude oil transport by focusing on increasing safety through prevention.
ODOT’s inspectors regularly monitor train speeds, track conditions, train car placement, and tank car worthiness. Members of the
unit also walk track, inspect cars, review operating procedures, evaluate safety at crossings, and check hazardous materials shipping
documents for accuracy. ODOT is also reviewing and revising Oregon Administrative Rules pertaining to requirements for railroads to
report the types and quantities of dangerous commodities moving through Oregon communities. The emphasis on safety by prevention
appears to have been successful: from 2004 through 2013, Oregon experienced an 81 percent reduction in derailments. This trend has
generally continued, with derailments dropping from 20 in 2013 to 16 in 2017.
UNION STATION TRAIN STATION IN
PORTLAND OREGON.
© RIGUCCI

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RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Improve capacity to keep up with the anticipated increase of freight expected
to use Oregon’s freight rail system.
•• Implement recommended changes from the 2010 Oregon Rail Study and the
Oregon State Rail Plan when it relates to shared common tracks.
•• Seek to continuously increase the resiliency of the state rail network. Identify
weak points and fund projects to systematically address these weaknesses.
•• Support more double-stack intermodal clearance projects.
•• Modernize and/or remove at-grade crossings.
•• Support innovative, public-private financing agreements for freight projects.
•• Seek new, innovative sources of federal and state funding for rail passenger
and freight investment to specifically reduce highway congestion and improve
the overall level of transportation safety in the state and to fund larger projects
supported over multiple contract years.
•• Inventory and aggressively market freight connections in land packages to
prospective business owners looking to bring business to Oregon.

SOURCES
Oregon State Rail Plan

https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Planning/Documents/OSRP.pdf

Oregon Freight and Passenger Background Brief https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/lpro/


Publications/Background-Brief-Freight-and-Passenger-Rail-2018.pdf

ASCE Public Policy Statements http://www.asce.org/public_policy_statements/

American Association of Railroads

American Association of State Rail Officials (AASHTO)—particularly the rail committees

American Short Line and Regional Rail Association

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MT. HOOD MOUNTAIN LOOMING IN THE BACKGROUND IN OREGON


THE ROAD THROUGH MT. HOOD’S FRUIT LOOP WITH

© MELISSA KOPKA
ROADS
GRADE: C+

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Oregon has over 74,000 total miles of roads, which is 2 percent of the national mileage. An improving economy
and a growing population have contributed to significant capacity challenges, particularly in the Portland met-
ropolitan region. Fortunately, Oregon lawmakers acted to provide significant new funding for the transportation
system beginning in 2017. From 2017 to 2027, $5.3 billion of additional State Highway Fund revenue will be
available to go towards projects that alleviate congestion and improve roadway conditions. Additionally, Ore-
gonians benefit from roads that are generally well-maintained. Statewide, 66 percent of pavement was in good
condition, 24 percent was in fair condition, and 10 percent was in poor condition in 2018. Oregon’s highways
exceeded pavement condition targets, with 90 percent in fair to good condition. However, the state’s roadways
face challenges in the future related to population growth and seismic resilience.

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Photo by adrian on Unsplash

CONDITION & CAPACITY


Oregon’s need for reliable, resilient, and safe roads has grown since the first automobile arrived in 1899. Oregon now has 4.1 million
registered vehicles and 3.1 million licensed drivers. Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMT) has continued to increase, but much more slowly
than in the 1980s and 1990s. In 2017, there were 36.8 billion VMT total statewide on public roads. With an 11 percent growth in
population since 2010, vehicle travel increased by 8 percent between 2010 and 2017.
Oregon has over 74,000 total miles of roads, which is 2 percent of the national mileage. A majority of mileage falls within county
jurisdictions, but the top two agencies by ownership are the Bureau of Land Management and the Oregon Department of Transportation.
Approximately 81 percent of Oregon’s public roads are rural and 19 percent are urban.

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SUMMARY OF MILEAGE AS OF DECEMBER 2017 (ADAPTED FROM ODOT).

JURISDICTION MILEAGE PERCENTAGE


Oregon Department of Transportation (State 8,033 11%
Highway System)
County & Local Access 32,831 44%
City 11,222 15%
Other State Agencies 648 1%
Federal Agencies 19,647 27%
Bureau of Land Management 13,510 18%
U.S. National Forest 5,610 8%
National Park Service 103 0.1%
Army Corps of Engineers 98 0.1%
U.S. Military 27 0.0%
Other Federal Agencies 299 0.5%
Tribal Government & Bureau of Indian Affairs 1,726 2%
Total 74,106 100%

Oregon’s top five chokepoints are in the Portland Metro region, the state’s largest metropolitan area. A majority of these chokepoints
are at highway interchanges, such as the I-5 Columbia River Crossing and I-5/I-84/I-405 Interchange. The Portland Metro area
ranked 20th in total congestion cost and 11th in cost per auto commuter (with $1,273 for travel time delay and excess fuel consumption
per year) out of all U.S. urban areas, according to the Texas A&M Congestion Rankings.
Poor roadway conditions also take their toll. According to TRIP, Oregon motorists pay $267 per person in extra vehicle repairs and
operating costs due to driving on roads in need of repair. This is a cost of $764 million per year for Oregon motorists.

Beginning in 2019 with the passage of Keep Oregon Moving (House Bill 2017), counties and cities are required to report pavement
conditions to the state to improve transparency, accountability, and performance. Oregon counties reported 68 percent good condition
pavement road-miles, 22 percent fair, and 10 percent poor. For cities, the total reported was 59 percent good, 26 percent fair, and
15 percent poor. In Portland, the conditions were lower – 40 percent good, 30 percent fair, and 31 percent poor. State highways
consisted of 65 percent good, 25 percent fair, and 10 percent poor. Oregon set a target of 85 percent fair or better pavement
conditions for state highways, which was exceeded in 2018 with 90 percent fair or better.

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OPERATION & MAINTENANCE


The statewide pavement condition report outlines the current status and future needs of the state highway system estimating an
annual need of $200 million dollars. Priority between ODOT and cities is on maintenance and preservation. While the state now has
more resources to address operations and maintenance thanks to HB 2017, localities continue to struggle. Not only do new projects
lack funding, but often maintenance is deferred due to lack of funding. County governments with high road mileage (length) and
smaller populations are particularly challenged to properly maintain their roadway infrastructure due to significant needs and a smaller
tax base to pay for them.

One area cities struggle with is snow removal. Some cities have snow removal equipment; others rely on ODOT. In Oregon, a severe winter
storm can literally wipe out a city’s street budget. There is no good data on average time for snow removal, especially in smaller cities.
The League of Oregon Cities, in a 2016 transportation needs study of its members, determined that $3.7 billion was needed to fully
address the street and road maintenance needs of Oregon Cities.

FUNDING
ODOT receives revenue from a variety of state and federal sources. The primary sources of federal and state revenue for roads are
taxes and fees associated with the ownership and operation of motor vehicles. For the period 2017-2019, 57 percent of funding
available for highway related projects and programs in Oregon is derived from state sources and 43 percent is from federal sources.

The current state tax rate on a gallon of gas is 34 cents. The rate is scheduled to increase to 36 cents in January 2020, and if statutory
triggers are met, increase by an additional 2 cents in January 2022 and another 2 cents in January 2024.

The current state tax rate on a gallon of diesel is 34 cents and is subject to the same schedule of increases as set for gasoline. The diesel
tax rate is for vehicles less than 26,000 pounds gross vehicle weight. For vehicles operating at above 26,000 pounds, payment of per
gallon fuel taxes is replaced by payment of weight mile tax.

Under state law, Oregon cities and counties are permitted to assess local per gallon taxes on gasoline and diesel. Information on
Oregon local jurisdictions currently imposing fuel taxes is available at the following website: https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/FTG/
Pages/Current%20Fuel%20Tax%20Rates.aspx. A few examples are listed below:

LOCAL GASOLINE TAX RATES

JURISDICTION TAX RATE ADMINISTERED BY


City of Eugene $0.05 ODOT FTG
City of Sandy $0.02 City
City of Sisters $0.03 City
City of Tigard $0.03 ODOT FTG

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Oregon’s transportation network is also supported with federal gas tax receipts, vehicle registration fees, and electric vehicle fees. The
current federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon and the federal diesel tax is 24.4 cents per gallon. Oregon’s 2-year vehicle registration
fee is $112. Hybrid and electric vehicles will be charged $110 beginning in 2020 and the funding will be programmed for maintenance
and capital projects.

With gas tax revenue expected to decline, Oregon has been a leader in closing the gap between fuels tax revenue and road usage. In
2015, Oregon was the first state to establish a tax program on actual road usage for light vehicles, called OReGO.

FUTURE NEED
In Oregon, it is predicted that population growth will continue, leading to an overall increase in travel. This will likely lead to higher levels
of congestion in many areas of the state. Oregon is working to curb congestion. Local jurisdictions are required to prepare Transportation
System Plans that plan for future populations and examine land uses and transportation systems needed to support that growth.

Local agencies within metropolitan areas are also required to help reduce the reliance on automobile travel by planning for transportation
options that include walking, biking, and transit, along with demand management techniques to help lower travel demand. ODOT is also
investing significant funds into non-highway infrastructure for walking and biking. With assistance from revenue derived from HB 2017,
the state agency is also expanding transit systems.

ODOT is working to curb congestion through strategic operational improvements such as ITS technologies and low-cost improvements
to smooth traffic flow without adding capacity to the system. These strategies include ramp meters, coordinated traffic signal systems,
variable speed zones, addressing merging/diverging deficiencies, travel information services, and more. Included in this area is financial
support to travel demand programs such as travel options programs in metropolitan areas, van pools, car sharing, and other Transportation
Demand Management type strategies. Finally, thanks to support from the Oregon legislature, ODOT is making strategic investments
to address congestion and system bottlenecks that have been identified from state and local planning efforts. Included in this is the
effort to evaluate system pricing options within the Portland Metropolitan area to help improve system congestion.

ODOT does not have a total needs calculated for future highway construction and maintenance other than the high-level estimates
from the Oregon Transportation Plan and Oregon Highway Plan. These are very generic and high level and again are not project specific.

Projected pavement maintenance cost is generally addressed in the OTP. ODOT will be preparing a risk-based Transportation Asset
Management Plan for the National Highway System (NHS) that will address highway pavement preservation needs and strategies to
meet targets per federal requirements. Projected revenue funding levels for the state highway system provide about one-half of the
actual need for pavement preservation and major repairs.

PUBLIC SAFETY
According to a 2017 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), there were 437 fatalities on all Oregon roads, which
was about 1 percent of the fatalities nationwide. Oregon’s number of deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled matched the national
average of 1.16. 65 percent of motor vehicle crash deaths occurred in rural areas and 35 percent occurred in urban areas. Most deaths
have been on non-Interstate roads, and common errors of drivers in fatal crashes have been driving too fast for conditions, failing to
maintain lane, and exceeding the posted speed.

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MOTOR VEHICLE CRASH DEATH RATES IN OREGON (BASED ON IIHS DATA)

Oregon has a goal of having no deaths or life-changing injuries on the transportation system by 2035 (see the Oregon Transportation
Safety Action Plan). The state is working towards improving safety measures such as driving behavior, equipment standards, and the use
of safety belts and child seats. Oregon is among the top three states with the highest percentage of observed seat belt use. Using both
“systematic” and “hot spot” approaches to identify crash locations with fatalities and serious injuries, Oregon is able to improve safety
by prioritizing benefit-to-cost ratios and areas with high crash concentrations.

“STAY ALIVE ON I-5” BY ODOT IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0.

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Crashes and vehicle safety are not the only public safety concerns. Oregon asthma rates are higher than national rates, which are
worsened by smog. The main air pollutants in Oregon are particle pollutants, and the Bend-Redmond-Pineville and Portland-Vancouver-
Salem areas are within the top 50 most polluted areas in terms of short-term particle pollution. To combat car exhaust, the Oregon
DEQ has a commute options rule that requires many employers to provide commuter incentives for alternatives such as carpooling,
telecommuting, or biking.

RESILIENCE
The Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel and the Legislature’s Joint Committee toured the state listening to Oregonians about the
needs of the transportation system. The need to preserve and maintain the transportation system, to protect it and make it resilient to
a major earthquake, was a major issue that came up as a concern.

The Oregon Resilience Plan focuses on plans for the next Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. With the potential of rockfalls, landslides,
and collapsed roadways, there is expected to be catastrophic failures and long closures following the earthquake. Oregon has Seismic
Lifeline Routes, which are intended to facilitate the response of emergency services and support economic recovery after a disaster.
It would take one to three years for Tier 1 Seismic Lifeline Routes (highest priority) in the Willamette Valley and Central Oregon to
become 90 percent operational, given the current conditions. The estimated time in the Coastal Zone is over three years.

Oregon participated in FHWA’s Climate Resilience Pilot Program (2013-2015), which included studies by DOTs and MPOs to assess
vulnerability to climate change and extreme weather. The most vulnerable highways were in the Coast Range (where rock falls and
landslides occur), along larger road cuts or fill slopes, in low-elevation areas subject to flooding (rivers and estuaries), and coastal areas
subject to storm surge and inundation from sea level rise. All designated Lifeline Routes were found to be vulnerable to climate impacts.

“OR 34 DRONE VIEW” BY ODOT IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0.

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INNOVATION
Oregon has a strong focus on transportation research and implements pilot projects to test innovative approaches to roadway
construction. The state is home to one of five national University Transportation Centers funded by the U.S. DOT, the Oregon
Transportation Research and Education Center that has the goal of conducting interdisciplinary research on transportation issues.
Oregon also implements FHWA’s Every Day Counts initiatives for pavement, roadway design, and construction innovations. ODOT is
part of a pooled fund study that includes intelligent compaction, thermal profiling, ground penetrating radar, and pavement smoothness.
3D models have progressively been used for design and construction applications. ODOT has used automated machine guidance on
recent projects such as Pioneer Mountain – Eddyville, Newberg-Dundee Bypass, and Bly Mountain. 3D milling, which combines 3D
design models and automated machine control, has been used on short pilot project sections.

In 2012 ODOT completed a Greenroads Pilot Project, the US 97: Lava Butte – S. Century Drive Section that increased capacity and
improved safety on the highway, while incorporating sustainability. With the installation of two wildlife under-crossings as part of the
project, there has been an 86 percent decline in wildlife-car collisions since 2012.

“LINE OF DEER” BY ODOT IS LICENSED UNDER CC BY 2.0.

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RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Construct projects that will relieve bottlenecks on Portland area freeways.
•• Incorporate more cost-reducing preservation treatments, recycled materials,
energy-saving measures, and environmental considerations in designing
future roadway improvement projects.
•• Roadway stakeholders, including governmental, private sector, and other
interests, should meet regularly to discuss infrastructure challenges and
paths toward solution implementation.
•• Better address the effects of stormwater contamination, erosion and sediment
coming from roads and its effect on waters of the U.S. Oregon should
look towards a requirement for a Pollution Prevention Plan for new road
construction-related projects.

DEFINITIONS
HISP Highway Safety Improvement Plan
ITS Technology’s Intelligent Transportation System
KOM Keep Oregon Moving
MPO A Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) is made of local government
authorities and represents an urbanized area with a population greater than 50,000
people and is responsible for planning metropolitan transportation processes.
NHS The National Highway System (NHS) is a highway network of roadways
important to the nation’s economy, defense, and mobility including the Interstate
Highway System, Other Principal Arterials, Strategic Highway Network, Major
Strategic Highway Network Connectors, and Intermodal Connectors.
ODOT Oregon Department of Transportation
OTP Oregon Transportation Plan
Smog Anthropogenic air pollution consisting of coal combustion, industrial, and
vehicular exhaust emissions.
TDM Transportation Demand Management
VMT Vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is the total number of miles traveled by vehicles
per year.

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SOURCES
2014 Regional Transportation Plan, Retrieved from https://www.oregonmetro.gov/
regional-transportation-plan
ALA. “State of the Air 2018.” American Lung Association, https://www.lung.org/our-
initiatives/healthy-air/sota/, Accessed February 27, 2019.

Craig Honeyman, League of Oregon Cities, Local Transportation Finance, Retrieved from
http://orcities.org/MemberServices/AZIndex/tabid/810/language/en-US/Default.aspx

DEQ. “Employee Commute Options.” Air Quality, Oregon Department of Environmental


Quality, https://www.oregon.gov/deq/aq/programs/Pages/ECO.aspx, Accessed February
27, 2019.

Greenroads. “US 97: Lava Butte to S. Century Drive Section.” Greenroads Pilot Project,
Greenroads, https://www.greenroads.org/141/17/us-97-lava-butte-to-s-century-drive-
section.html, Accessed February 27, 2019.

Hamway, Stephen. “Bridging the Gap for Central Oregon Wildlife.” The Bulletin, January
12, 2019, https://www.bendbulletin.com/localstate/6839082-151/bridging-the-gap-for-
central-oregon-wildlife.

Harvey, Holly. “Oregon Cities Receive Mixed Grades for Air Quality.” American Lung
Association, https://www.lung.org/local-content/_content-items/about-us/media/press-
releases/oregon-cities-receive-mixed.html, Accessed February 27, 2019.

IIHS. “General Statistics.” Highway Loss Data Institute, Insurance Institute for Highway
Safety, https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/general-statistics/fatalityfacts/state-by-state-
overview/2017, Accessed February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “All Roads Transportation Safety.” Engineering, Oregon Department of


Transportation, https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/Engineering/Pages/ARTS.aspx, Accessed
February 27, 2019.

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SOURCES (CONT.)
ODOT. “DMV Facts & Statistics.” Oregon Driver & Motor Vehicle Services, Oregon Department
of Transportation, https://www.oregon.gov/odot/dmv/pages/news/factsstats.aspx, Accessed
February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “Intelligent Compaction.” Engineering Automation, Oregon Department of


Transportation, https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/ETA/Pages/Intelligent-Compaction.aspx,
Accessed February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “Keep Oregon Moving (HB 2017).” Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.
oregon.gov/ODOT/Pages/HB2017.aspx, Accessed February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “ODOT History.” About Us, Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.


oregon.gov/odot/about/pages/history.aspx, Accessed February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “Pavement and Bridge Condition.” Transparency, Accountability, and Performance,


Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/TAP/Pages/
Conditions.aspx, Accessed February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “Safety.” Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.oregon.gov/odot/safety/


pages/index.aspx, Accessed February 27, 2019.

ODOT. “Data and Maps.” Oregon Department of Transportation, https://www.oregon.gov/


ODOT/data/pages/index.aspx, Accessed February 27, 2019.

Texas A&M Transportation Institute. “2015 Urban Mobility Scorecard and Appendices.” Urban
Mobility Information, https://mobility.tamu.edu/ums/report/, August 2015.

TREC. “Who We Are.” About TREC, Transportation Research and Education Center, https://
trec.pdx.edu/about, Accessed February 27, 2019.

TRIP. “State Information & Reports for Oregon.” TRIP, http://www.tripnet.org/Oregon_State_


Info.php, Accessed February 27, 2019.

U.S. DOT. “Highway Statistics 2017.” Office of Highway Policy Information, United States
Department of Transportation, https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/policyinformation/statistics/2017/,
Accessed February 27, 2019.

U.S. DOT. “Public Road and Street Mileage in the United States by Type of Surface(a).” Bureau
of Transportation Statistics, United States Department of Transportation, https://www.bts.gov/
content/public-road-and-street-mileage-united-states-type-surfacea, Accessed February 27,
2019.

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WASTEWATER
SANITARY SEWER OVERFLOWS SUCH AS THE ONE SHOWN ABOVE
IN AN EXISTING CREEK THREATEN AQUATIC HABITATS AND
DRINKING WATER SOURCES.

WASTEWATER
GRADE: D

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
Population growth, state-wide asset deterioration, and disaster response are the primary contributors to Oregon’s
wastewater infrastructure deficiencies. Oregon’s compliance with Clean Water Act standards depends on its ability to
manage substantial demand increases on systems designed for much less capacity and address aging infrastructure on
the brink of failure. These needs alone are challenging enough to fulfill but are now magnified by the threat of an up-
coming natural disaster. Many of the wastewater systems are beyond useful design life and will soon need replacement
or full rehabilitation. Estimates show a total investment need for Oregon’s wastewater infrastructure of approximately
$5 billion. Engineers, planners, and managers must collectively decide during the creation of capital improvement
plans how to allocate precious available funds, which almost always fall short of the funds needed to achieve compre-
hensive system improvements.

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CONDITION & CAPACITY


While specific challenges vary with size and demographic of individual service populations, wastewater service providers across the state
are faced with at least one common problem: aging infrastructure that is beyond its estimated useful design life leading to increased
frequency of failures and costly system inefficiencies. Degraded infrastructure and insufficient capacity are direct causes of sanitary
sewer overflows, which occur regularly throughout the state, and can threaten drinking water sources, contaminate groundwater,
destroy aquatic habitats, and lead to costly public and/or private property damage.

In many cases, conveyance system assets are well over 100 years old, but with so many competing needs for funding each year, service
providers have no choice but to rely on these aged systems to convey wastewater volumes far exceeding their original design capacities.
Unfortunately, projects that address aging, undersized,
and/or high-risk assets are often located in older, fully ROOT INTRUSION IS A SIGNIFICANT
developed areas of the service districts, where projects CONTRIBUTOR TO I&I IN SEWER PIPES
are more expensive to execute due to challenges such as
the need for traffic control/road closures, coordination to
avoid or relocate underground utilities, disruption to public
services (water, gas, electric, etc.), and site restoration
(streets, sidewalks, landscaping, etc.). Service providers
must balance investment needs required to increase the
capacity of existing systems (pipes, treatment plants,
pump stations, etc.) to support population growth and new
development with upgrades required to meet increasingly
stringent permit requirements and address high-risk assets
with elevated probabilities and/or consequences of failure.

A related issue facing wastewater service providers in


Oregon is inflow and infiltration (I&I) of groundwater
and stormwater into the conveyance system through
deficiencies such as cracks, separated pipe joints, and roots
that have pushed their way into the sewers. During the Oregon wet season (November-March), it is not uncommon for communities
to experience loadings five to seven times their normal dry-season flows due to I&I, but flows 20 times normal dry weather flows are
not unheard of. If not addressed, these deficiencies leave the conveyance system vulnerable to I&I that can lead to excessive loading
on downstream treatment processes, reducing the facility’s ability to completely treat the wastewater received before it is discharged.

According to the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), there are 198 Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTWs)
regulated through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program to treat domestic sewage, meaning
that they discharge from a point source to state waters. There are nearly 50 additional public facilities that operate under Water
Pollution Control Facility (WPCF) permits to discharge wastewater effluent to land. Roughly, 30 percent of Oregon households do
not have access to public sewer services and must rely on on-site treatment (septic) systems to manage their domestic wastewater.
There are no strong regulatory drivers for diligent tracking of septic system conditions, and issues often go unnoticed until failure
occurs. It is estimated that as many as 10 percent of on-site septic systems (~45,000 systems) fail each year. Ineffective treatment
or capture in any percentage of these systems poses a significant environmental and public health threat to Oregon.

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Oregon has a significant need for wastewater system improvements to address both capacity and condition deficiencies. The most
pressing needs for wastewater infrastructure in Oregon include those for rehabilitation or replacement of existing conveyance assets
beyond their useful service life, treatment plant expansions to accommodate increased system loads, and treatment plant upgrades
to replace failing mechanical systems or meet new permit conditions. The correlation between capacity and condition cannot be
separated and should be considered in every future planning effort concerning repairs and upgrades.

The importance of addressing these wastewater infrastructure deficiencies cannot be overstated. Failure of wastewater infrastructure
(public or septic systems) can have serious, wide-reaching impacts on humans, wildlife, and our environment. Failures can lead to
contamination of groundwater, surface water, or marine water sources, making them unsafe for drinking, recreational use, shellfish
harvesting, and agricultural uses. They can also pose risks to human health and create life-threatening conditions for aquatic species.

O&M AERATION BASIN AT CLEAN WATER


SERVICES DURHAM WWTF
Especially for smaller communities, a lack of existing system
knowledge makes it very challenging to plan ahead for system
operation and maintenance needs, and the resulting reactive (versus
proactive) approach inevitably leads to increased spending on
emergency maintenance and repairs.

As discussed in the Condition and Capacity section of this report, I&I


entering the system dramatically increases the volume of wastewater
that conveyance systems must accommodate and treatment plants
are required to treat during periods of wet weather. As a result,
treatment plants must be grossly oversized to accommodate seasonal
flow volumes, and service providers must have two separate operating
strategies: one for wet weather season and one for dry weather season.
System work required during the wet season quickly becomes more
expensive, as staff must account for high system flows and increased
consequences of failure. While sometimes emergency repairs are
inevitable, a more proactive approach to identifying and addressing
defects would help minimize risks and reduce costs of repairs by
allowing them be completed, whenever possible, during months with
lower system loadings when pipelines and treatment components
are more easily taken offline. Improved asset management and
replacement planning for conveyance and treatment systems is
critical to reducing the need for reactive (and more expensive)
maintenance approaches.

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FUNDING & FUTURE NEED


The population of Oregon has grown by just over 11 percent in the last nine years, from 3.83 million in the 2010 census to an estimated
4.2 million in 2019. Approximately 1.40 million of the total state population (32.8 percent) is concentrated in Multnomah, Clackamas,
and Washington Counties, with the largest City being Portland, which is home to nearly 15 percent of the state population. Based on a
2015 survey, ratepayers were, on average, paying $43.84 per 5,000 gallons, which works out to be about $0.01/gallon of wastewater
discharged into the system. Other means of funding comes from connection charges and development charges, but service providers
are still facing massive gaps between available revenue and funds required to meet minimum conditions of their permits.

Especially in smaller communities, there are inadequate rate-payer bases to support what larger service providers often view as basic
program needs (e.g. development of digitized asset databases, regular asset condition assessments, etc.). Some rural communities
are also limited by the demographic of their service population. For example, affordability of service is imperative in communities
with a large retirement population with fixed incomes. Additional sources of funding are critical to bridging the gap between available
revenues and funds needed to address the full gambit of infrastructure needs.

The League of Oregon Cities completed a survey in 2016 to determine estimated infrastructure investment needs. Based on responses
from 120 cities representing 85 percent of the state population living in cities, an estimated $4.4 billion investment is needed for
repair, replacement, or capacity expansions for water quality capital projects (e.g. wastewater treatment, stormwater facilities, water
reuse, etc.) in the next 20 years. The total estimated investment need for Oregon’s wastewater infrastructure is likely more than $5
billion when needs for cities that did not respond to the survey are accounted for.

System extensions are often driven by and paid for by new developments. However, responsibility for upsizing older portions of the
system that are not designed to handle increased loads resulting from new developments falls on the wastewater service provider.
A majority of wastewater service providers rely heavily on loans and grants to subsidize system improvements and treatment plant
expansions. Costs for new extensions driven by development are typically covered by the development companies and in the case of
housing developments, are passed off to benefitting property owners upon purchase of the property

One of the most well-known sources for financing is the Oregon Clean Water State Revolving Fund (OCWSRF), which provides
technical assistance and below-market rate loans for planning, design and construction projects related to stormwater and wastewater.
In 2018, the OCWSRF issued a total of $75,306,681 in loans to 11 communities (six small communities, four large communities,
and one irrigation district). The state also operates a Circuit Rider Program through the OCWSRF to provide up to 10 hours of on-
site technical services (per issue) for community water systems that service populations under 10,000 people. Wastewater service
providers often have to sell bonds to acquire funds for larger projects or secure other funding sources from resources such as the
Oregon Business Development Department (OBDD), Oregon Association of Water Utilities (OAWU), Oregon Water Resources
Department (OWRD), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Rural Community Assistance Corporation, U.S.
Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration (EDA), and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). All of these
programs are highly competitive, and in some cases, it can be a challenge for service providers to find resources necessary to collect
required data and get through the application processes.

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RESILIENCE & INNOVATION


The concentration of Oregon’s wastewater infrastructure is west of the Cascade Mountains and founded upon alluvial soils with
varying degrees of susceptibility to failure in an earthquake. Without complete replacement of all pipes designed without seismic
considerations, there is no way to achieve actual resiliency in the worst-case scenario. The best opportunities for improving resiliency
come from investment in planning and construction that focuses on providing redundancy for critical infrastructure. Oregon has only
recently increased its consciousness on this front, leaving most infrastructure outdated. However, there are now construction codes and
emergency preparedness planning efforts in the works to improve seismic resiliency.

PROJECTS IN DEVELOPED AREAS REQUIRE Wastewater managers are tasked with the responsibility
ADDITIONAL PLANNING AND EXPENSE TO MINIMIZE to provide adequate system functionality to allow
DISTURBANCE TO BUSINESSES AND RESIDENTS. residents to survive the months following a natural
disaster. Master plans must include the identification
of critical conveyance paths and facilities so that all
projects within that system can attempt to improve
the robustness of those paths, if possible. There are
many examples of WW master plans in Oregon that
do incorporate seismic response, but it has yet to
be confirmed to what degree the practice is being
implemented.

A majority of the smaller wastewater service providers


do not have the resources to focus on innovation in
their systems. Instead, they rely on programmatic
approaches and technologies that have been proven
over time to be reliable. However, the service
providers for mid to large size communities have made
investments in innovative technologies and concepts.
For example, through investments in energy recovery
and production, the City of Gresham now generates
enough energy on-site to sustain operations of their
wastewater treatment plant, saving them an estimated
$500,000 annually in electricity costs. The City of
The Dalles also invested in energy recovery technology,
with funding support from the OCWSFR.

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Another area of focus for innovation in Oregon is direct potable reuse, which is the recycling of treated wastewater derived from
domestic and industrial sources for beneficial purposes. This initiative is largely driven by the threat of water shortages from increasingly
common drought conditions in the pacific northwest. One of the largest barriers is public perception of using wastewater effluent for
potable applications. Clean Water Services, a water resources management utility in Hillsboro, OR, has launched a public awareness
campaign called Clean Water Brew which puts wastewater effluent through additional ultra-purification processes and provides it to
local brewers to make beer for the Pure Water Brew Challenge. The purpose is to “demonstrate an innovative solution to preserve clean
water, now and in the future” and highlight the capabilities of modern technologies that allow safe direct potable reuse to be a reality
for the future.

CO-GENERATORS AT THE CITY OF GRESHAM WASTEWATER TREATMENT PLANT CONVERT BIOGAS INTO
HEAT AND ELECTRICITY - ENOUGH TO HEAT THE PLANT AND PRODUCE 5.2 MILLION KWH OF ELECTRICITY
A YEAR, SAVING THE PLANT $500,000 A YEAR ON ELECTRICITY.

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RECOMMENDATIONS
TO RAISE THE GRADE
•• Raise awareness of the true cost of wastewater conveyance and treatment,
as well as for the implications of inadequate investment in wastewater
conveyance and treatment systems. Utility rates should cover the full cost of
service including operation, maintenance and capital costs.
•• Provide assistance to smaller communities to help them identify and apply for
available loan and grant programs
•• Preserve tax exempt municipal bond financing. Low-cost access to capital helps
keep lending for wastewater upgrades strong and accessible for communities
large and small.
•• Utilities should improve asset management programs and replacement
planning strategies to ensure efficient use of rate-payer dollars and promote a
proactive approach to system maintenance and repairs.
•• Service providers should perform comprehensive rate studies to increase rates
and development charges to a level that closes the funding gap over time.

INFRASTRUCTUREREPORTCARD.ORG/OREGON—PAGE 94
WASTEWATER

SOURCES
https://www.deq.state.or.us/wq/sisdata/ContactsCriteria.asp
https://www.oregon.gov/deq/Residential/Pages/Onsite-Loans.aspx
https://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/WastewaterManagement/
SepticSystem/SignsofFailure
League of Oregon Cities, Water, Wastewater and Stormwater Rate Survey,
March 2015
http://worldpopulationreview.com/states/oregon-population/
Oregon DEQ, Clean Water State Revolving Fund Annual Report, 2018
Rural Community Assistance Corporation,What You Should Know About Water:
Fundamentals of Municipal Water and Wastewater Infrastructure in Oregon, http://
www.orcities.org/Portals/17/conference/2017/handouts/RCACCombined.pdf
https://greshamoregon.gov/Wastewater-Treatment-Plant/
https://www.oregon.gov/deq/wq/programs/Pages/Water-Reuse.aspx
League of Oregon Cities, City Infrastructure Projects, December 2012
Bipartisan Policy Center Executive Council on Infrastructure Water Task Force,
11

Understanding America’s Water and Wastewater Challenges, May 2017


12
David A. Keiser and Joseph S. Shapiro, Consequences of the Clean Water Act and
the Demand for Water Quality, Working Paper 23070, June 2018
13
US EPA, Clean Watersheds Needs Survey 2012 – Report to Congress, January 2016

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